Taking advantage of 35 bench points, the Iowa women’s basketball team rolled to a 77-53 win over the Gophers on Sunday at the Sports Pavilion.
“Their bench outscored our starters,” a disappointed Minnesota coach Cheryl Littlejohn said.
Four Hawkeyes scored in double figures, including two bench players. The win gives Iowa a chance to finish with a .500 record in the conference, while it drops the Gophers’ thoughts of pulling out of last.
“We needed to get off to a quick start, which we did,” Iowa coach Angie Lee said. “I think it was our bench play that helped us get over the hump.”
Freshman Amber O’Brien scored eight bench points in the first half for Iowa after her uniform number cost the Hawkeyes two points.
O’Brien entered the game with 14:33 remaining in the first half wearing number one, the Iowa bench was given a technical foul 23 seconds later because the official scorer had her wearing number 19.
She finished with 12 points.
Sophomore Lindsay Meyer led all scorers with 15 points, including two three-pointers in the first 1:21 of the second half to open a 13-point Hawkeyes lead. The Gophers were unable to recover.
Freshman Kim Prince scored 12 bench points in the first half alone for Minnesota. She led the Gophers with 14 points. Senior Erin Olson, who finished with 12 points, praised the Gophers rookie.
“The team knows she can score when we get her the ball down low,” Olson said. “She’s doing a great job being aggressive; we need to get her the ball more.”
The Hawkeyes drained 17-of-19 free throws in the game while the Gophers could not execute offensively, especially in the second half, shooting just 25 percent.
Sophomore Cassie VanderHeyden, who scored a career-high 26 points in Minnesota’s win over Northwestern on Thursday, was held to just 2-of-13 shooting, including a 1-for-8 performance from behind the arc.
“We were getting good shots but we were unable to execute,” Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn also said she was not offended when Iowa put on a full-court press leading by 21 with just over five minutes remaining. Iowa had not pressed in the game up to that point.
“I wouldn’t say that I would do it … but where is there etiquette in basketball?” she said. “I would rather lose by 30 or 40 points than by one. The bottom line is, I’m gonna remember every game.”
One bright spot for the Gophers came late in the game when freshman Lindsay Lieser broke a school record with her 64th trey of the season on Minnesota’s last basket of the game.
Up until that point, the loudest cheer for the Gophers in the second half came when it was announced that Minnesota had taken a 13-10 lead over Iowa next door in wrestling.
The Gophers travel to Big Ten-leading Penn State on Thursday. The Lions have won eight straight over the Gophers.