IOWA CITY — The Iowa women’s basketball team has now won 33 straight home games for many reasons. But in Thursday night’s 76-60 win over Nebraska, one of those reasons was the Huskers’ ongoing struggles in the third quarter.
The No. 20 Hawkeyes turned a three-point halftime lead into a 12-point cushion headed into the fourth quarter as Nebraska launched — and largely missed — 3-point shots. NU (15-8, 5-7 Big Ten) lost its third straight game and fourth out of five. Iowa (19-4,10-2) won its 10th game in 11 tries and its 33rd straight home game.
The biggest difference Thursday night? Offensive efficiency.
Iowa worked the ball in the paint, hit 45.2% of its shots and had 23 assists. Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle had a school-record 15 of them as Nebraska’s best defender, Nicea Eliely, was limited in minutes because of foul trouble. The player who would have guarded Doyle eventually fouled out early in the fourth quarter, smacking her hands on the floor as she picked up her fifth foul.
“There’s just very little margin for error when you guard a team like that,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said on her postgame radio show. “We had a couple possessions where we had a little brain fart, didn’t come off ball side to help on penetration, and they’d find those shooters quickly.”
Nebraska, meanwhile, hung around the perimeter — a lot. Iowa’s zone defense allowed for relatively open jumpers, and NU fired away, often from behind the men’s 3-point line.
For the night, the Huskers hit just 8 of 30 from beyond the arc. They were particularly cold — 2 for 10 on 3-pointers — in the decisive third quarter.
“By our evaluation, we got shots that we think are great shots for our team,” Williams said. “We just didn’t make them.”
After NU guard Hannah Whitish — 14 points, five assists — hit a 3-pointer to pull Nebraska within 44-40 with 5:27 left in the third, Iowa embarked on a 13-5 run to end the quarter. Iowa got a double-double from Doyle, who also scored 15 points, and 23 points from Monika Czinano. That duo helped Iowa fend off the Huskers in the fourth quarter, as well.
“She looked great inside, and we made her look great,” Williams said of Czinano, who was often too quick for Nebraska’s posts to handle.
Despite missing several open shots, Nebraska hung with the Hawkeyes for the entire first half as Leigha Brown scored 14 of her team-high 20 points off the bench and Cain, after a sluggish first quarter, had eight of her 12 points by halftime. NU fell behind 5-0 in the opening five minutes before Brown and Isabelle Bourne hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give their team its first lead. Nebraska and Iowa were tied at 13-13 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the teams traded leads four times before Doyle hit a 3-pointer just before the break for a 35-32 halftime lead.