Iowa women’s hoops falls to defending national champs Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— From tip-off to the final whistle, Purcell Pavilion belonged to Arike Ogunbowale and the Fighting Irish Thursday night, as they outclassed the Hawkeyes on their way to a 105-71 victory.

No. 14 Iowa (4-2) treaded water for most of the first half, trailing by just 11 coming out of the half.

Then No. 1 Notre Dame (7-0) exploded out of the break with a 20-3 run to take a commanding lead it never relinquished.

“Offensively they’re just a juggernaut,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “There’s so many weapons on that team. They’re just really hard to defend. I think it was their offense that took us out of our game”

Weapons may be littered up and down the Fighting Irish’s starting five, but none was more potent than Ogunbowale, who did whatever she wished to the Iowa defense.

From driving in the lane with circus moves to abrupt pull-up jumpers, she was nearly impossible to guard on her way to dropping 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting.

Four other Notre Dame players also found their way to double-digit points, with Jackie Young being the most notable among them, putting up 15 points along with her 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals.

For Iowa, it was Megan Gustafson who took her usual position, leading the Hawkeyes with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Gustafson was one of the lone bright spots for the Hawkeyes and her performance earned praise from legendary Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw.

“Megan is a hell of a player,” McGraw said. “She’s an All-American. She gave us fits inside. She’s a great player – really, really tough matchup.”

Tania Davis was next on the Iowa scoring list with 15 on 6-of-15 shooting with 4 assists. Makenzie Meyer struggled from deep, going 2-of-9 with 10 points, but rounded out her stat line with 6 boards and 5 assists.

Rebounding was the major problem for Iowa all game long, as they would often stop a Notre Dame offensive possession, only to have the Irish grab the offensive rebound and put in second-chance points.

“They’re a good rebounding team,” Gustafson said. “We didn’t do our job in terms of boxing out. We’re going to look back on this and really focus on box-outs as well as taking care of the ball.”

Defense was a struggle for the Hawkeyes, but their offense created a lot of havoc. They shot at a solid 42 percent clip, but struggled to even get off a shot at times.

Notre Dame attempted 12 more shots than the Hawkeyes in large part due to Iowa’s 18 turnovers.

Perhaps the Hawkeyes’ most glaring deficiency on the offensive end was their inability to get to the free-throw line.

In the first half, Iowa managed to get fouled just once, while Notre Dame was fouled line nine times.

That gap continued to widen in the second half, and the game finished with Iowa having just 7 free throws to Notre Dame’s 22.

Next, Iowa will return to Carver-Hawkeye to play Robert Morris Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

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