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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa –– Nothing describes Iowa’s last-second 66-64 loss to South Dakota State in the women’s basketball championship game of the 2016 Hawkeye Challenge like the final 14 seconds of the third quarter Sunday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
During that 14-second span, Hawkeye freshman Kathleen Doyle missed a 3-point attempt, but sophomore Megan Gustafson grabbed the offensive rebound; sophomore Tania Davis missed a 3-point attempt, but junior Chase Coley grabbed an offensive rebound; senior Alexa Kastanek missed a 3-point attempt, SDSU’s Ellie Thompson secured the rebound, went the length of the court and heaved a 3-pointer at the buzzer that rolled around and around before falling through the hoop.
That was one of eight 3-pointers for the Jackrabbits (4-0 overall), who led 54-41 heading in to the final 10 minutes. Iowa rallied to tie the game at 64, but tournament MVP Macy Miller sank the game-winner with 1.7 seconds remaining.
“We waited a little too long to intensify our defense and execute on offense,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said.
Iowa (4-1) committed 14 turnovers and trailed at halftime, 38-25. Through 20 minutes, SDSU shot 48.9 percent from the field (16-of-33), while the Hawkeyes made 12-of- 29 for 41.4 percent. SDSU never trailed.
Iowa senior Ally Disterhoft and sophomore Megan Gustafson were voted to the all-tournament team. Gustafson posted her third double-double in five games with 21 points and 13 rebounds (and three blocked shots); Disterhoft added 16 points, nine rebounds, and four steals.
The Hawkeyes rallied in the final quarter, outscoring SDSU, 23-12. Gustafson scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter with six rebounds, while Disterhoft added six points, three rebounds, and two steals. With 5.1 seconds remaining, Gustafson rebounded a miss by Davis and converted a field goal to tie the game at 64.
Four SDSU players scored in double figures led by Miller’s 22 (and 10 rebounds). Clarissa Ober (15 points, seven rebounds), Thompson (11 points) and Madison Guebert (10 points, three steals) were all named to the all-tournament team.
“We have played in big games whether it be in postseason events or in our league,” SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said. “We have played a lot of really good teams like Iowa in the past, home and away. I thought our team was comfortable here. I didn’t feel the home court — until the end — affected us.”
Iowa shot 53.8 percent from the field in the second quarter (7-of-13) and 52.6 percent in the fourth (10-of-19) and finished at 41.2 percent (28-of-68). SDSU shot 41.3 percent for the game (26-of-63), but just 33.3 percent in the second half (10-of-30).
“You’ve got to play four quarters and we didn’t do that today,” Bluder said. “South Dakota State, again, great basketball team, and we just were out of rhythm. We didn’t run our offense well. It was the first time we played behind and we looked like it. We acted like it. We acted like we panicked, instead of just sticking true to our offense and what was working.”
Davis led Iowa with five assists.
The Hawkeyes travel to Cancun, Mexico, where they play UCLA on Thanksgiving evening and James Madison on Nov. 25. The next home game is Nov. 30 against No. 1 Notre Dame as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.