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Bluder finally got the best of Fennelly on his home floor on Wednesday night — and fittingly, it was an Iowa-born player who led the way.
Mason City's Makenzie Meyer scored 18 points and Iowa hung on beat Iowa State 61-55 on Wednesday, its first win at Hilton Coliseum in 28 years.
Star Megan Gustafson added 16 with 14 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (9-1), who became just the second road team to win in 17 tries in this series.
"We're very excited about this win. It's been a long time since we won here," said Bluder, now in her 18th season with the Hawkeyes. "We didn't play our best game...but a lot of that was Iowa State's defense."
The Cyclones' defense was committed to mainly stopping Gustafson, who entered play averaging 22.3 points and 12.7 rebounds a game, by double-teaming her on nearly every possession.
But Meyer made them pay, hitting 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
"It opened things up around the perimeter a lot," Meyer said. "As an Iowan, it's really big honor to win this game — especially at Hilton (Coliseum)."
Still, Iowa blew an 11-point lead as the Cyclones rallied to tie it at 38 late in the third quarter. But Gustafson converted a 3-point play to push Iowa's lead back to 46-39, and Kathleen Doyle followed by crashing the boards for a putback. Meyer's 3-point play made it 51-42 Hawkeyes with 6:14 left.
Iowa State pushed back again, pulling within 56-55 with 28 seconds left on four Bridget Carleton free throws. But the Cyclones missed three 3s that would have tied the game, and Gustafson clinched with four straight free throws.
"Basketball is a game of shooters and makers. We were shooting it but we weren't making it," said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly, who is in his 23rd season in Ames.
Carleton had 17 points for Iowa State (3-5), but she was just 3 of 16 from the field. The Cyclones have lost four in a row — though the last three came down to the final minute.
"I think we got some good looks," Carleton said. "Kind of the same thing that has happened the last couple of games."
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: Will this be enough to push the Hawkeyes into the Top 25? Iowa received 26 points last week, third among teams outside the poll. That's doubtful — but Iowa has enough talent to get there eventually this season.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have lost to all three of its in-state rivals (Northern Iowa, Drake and Iowa) for the first time in 15 years. Projecting a winning season is getting tougher and tougher for Iowa State, a perennial NCAA Tournament team.
Iowa State made Gustafson virtually invisible in the first half, as she didn't score her first basket until the 2:46 mark of the second quarter. But Gustafson's defense helped hold the Cyclones to just three points in the second quarter, and Iowa led 26-19 at halftime. The Hawkeyes also used Iowa State's defensive focus on Gustafson to get Chase Coley free for back-to-back 10-footers to open the second half. "It was pretty crowded in there," Gustafson said.
Iowa outrebounded Iowa State 46-36. ...The Hawkeyes committed 16 turnovers, many of those coming on futile attempts to find Gustafson on the block. ...Carleton was 11 of 12 from the line and added six assists. ...Hannah Stewart had eight points and 12 rebounds off the bench. ...Iowa's last win in Ames came on Dec. 17, 1989. The Hawkeyes blew out the Cyclones 75-55.
Iowa hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.
Iowa State plays North Carolina Central on Sunday.