Gustafson's career effort helps Hawkeyes advance
IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder called Megan Gustafson “one of the best posts in the Midwest.”
By the time Gustafson is done here, that may be a major understatement.
The sophomore logged her best effort yet as an Iowa Hawkeye, notching a career-high 33 points (on 15-of-16 shooting from the floor) and 13 rebounds as Iowa bumped defending-champion South Dakota, 78-73, in a second-round WNIT women’s basketball game in front of 2,294 spectators Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“My teammates did a great job setting me up,” Gustafson said in her typically modest manner.
Iowa (19-13) advances to the third round, which will be Wednesday, Thursday or Friday against Colorado or South Dakota State at a site to be determined.
Maybe this is a consolation tournament, but the Hawkeyes are taking full advantage of the opportunity so far.
“We’re treating it as our own NCAA,” Gustafson said. “We’re going to play hard. We’re going to play together. And we’re going to play as long as we can.”
Gustafson made her first four shots, then missed her fifth, a runner from the left side.
“I don’t remember it,” she said.
She made her next 11, including a 10-for-10 second half.
Backup Hannah Stewart, perhaps Iowa’s most improved player this season, matched a career-best with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
“When you go against someone like Megan in practice every day, you’re ready for everything,” Stewart said.
So, simple math says that the Hawkeyes got 44 points — and 20 baskets in 22 attempts — out of their center position.
“I don’t know what to say about Megan anymore,” Bluder said. “She was incredible.
“And Hannah, I love to see her confidence growing. She’s playing behind one of the best posts in the Midwest.”
Iowa’s posts had the most, but South Dakota (23-9) went into the fourth quarter in a 55-55 tie.
The third quarter featured five lead changes, then Iowa went in front for good with a 6-0 run to start the fourth.
Gustafson converted inside, Makenzie Meyer added a 3-pointer and Ally Disterhoft made a free throw for a 61-55 advantage.
USD had a chance to tie, but Gustafson corralled the rebound on the defensive end, then scored with 26 seconds left for a 74-70 margin.
The newly minted Iowa career scoring leader, Disterhoft added 10 points. Kathleen Doyle added eight points and seven assists and replaced Samantha Logic as Iowa’s freshman assists leader with 138.
“When you’ve got someone as good (as Gustafson), it makes my job pretty easy,” Doyle said.
The Hawkeyes also blocked nine shots.
Iowa led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but it was a dogfight at 35-34 at intermission.
The final score was 78-73 Iowa winning over South Dakota.