It was pretty evident that it was just a matter of time that Iowa freshman Ally Disterhoft would make her way into the Hawkeyes’ starting lineup.
The Iowa City native entered Sunday’s game against Ohio State as the team’s fourth leading scorer and second leading rebounder and was coming off a recent 20-point performance in a win over Wisconsin a week ago.
Finally, Disterhoft’s chance came Sunday and she took full advantage, scoring a career-high 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Iowa women’s basketball team’s 81-74 win over the Buckeyes at Value City Arena.
Disterhoft made all 12 of her free throws, including six in the final 28 seconds that put the game away. She helped the Hawkeyes improve to 15-5 on the season.
“That one worked out pretty well," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said of the move to insert Disterhoft into the starting lineup. “Ally has been playing a whole bunch of minutes throughout the year, but we felt like we needed a little more offensive fire power in the starting lineup and she came through."
The last time Iowa won in Columbus, Ohio, was 74-71 on Feb. 20, 1998, during Angie Lee's third season as head coach.
And it looked like it would come relatively easy until Ohio State rallied in the second half.
Iowa never trailed and led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but the Buckeyes (12-9, 2-3) trimmed the lead down to twice on two different occasions. The Hawkeyes though made enough plays down the stretch to keep Ohio State at bay, and Disterhoft’s six free throws in the final 28 minutes locked up the win.
“That's what makes this win special; we're on the road, we took it," Bluder said. “They kept coming back at us and we withstood their challenges. They got within two points, we come up with a big bucket, we come up with a big rebound."
Four other Hawkeyes scored in double figures. Melissa Dixon tallied 16 points, while Bethany Doolittle added 14 points, three rebounds and three assists and Theairra Taylor chipped in 11 points and seven boards.
The only bench presence for Iowa was Alexa Kastanek, who scored all 10 of Iowa’s bench points. She logged 18 minutes in the game but only two other bench players saw the court and Kali Peschel, a former starter, and Claire Till combined for just nine minutes.
The Hawkeyes hit 48 percent from the floor, buried 8-of-17 from 3-point range and connected on 17-of-19 from the foul line.
Starting point guard Samantha Logic did not score in the first half, but Iowa led by 13 at the break anyway. She put in six points and five rebounds in the second half.
The Hawkeyes took advantage in the game with an 8-0 run that saw Taylor and Kastanek hit back-to-back treys. That extended Iowa’s lead to 21-8 and the Hawkeyes led 49-36 at the break.
Ohio State used an 11-0 run to get within two of its visitors. Raven Ferguson, who scored 11 points off the bench, scored six during the run, but the Buckeyes couldn’t get over the hump.
Iowa never led by more than seven the rest of the way, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t put Ohio State away until Disterhoft went 6-of-6 from the line in the closing seconds.
"It's nice going into a bye week off a win because then you can enjoy it a little more and feel better about yourself," Bluder said. "I know it will not be hard to motivate my team this week to get ready for (the Indiana) game."
Ameryst Alston had 24 points and six rebounds to lead the Buckeyes, while Martina Ellerbe contributed 17 points and five boards. The Buckeye bench outscored Iowa’s reserves 21-10.
Up next are five days off before a rematch against Indiana on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hoosiers (15-3, 2-3) defeated Iowa 86-84 in the league opener Jan. 2.
It’s a "Go Red for Women" event with one catch. Since Indiana's school colors include crimson, Hawkeye fans are encouraged to stick with wearing black and gold.
“We're still going black and gold for Go Red for Women Day," Bluder emphasized.