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By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Megan Gustafson received some good-natured kidding from her coaches and teammates after the game Saturday.
“We teased her, ‘What’s wrong with you missing that shot?'” University of Iowa head women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said.
Gustafson did miss a shot three minutes into the game.
“I don’t remember it,” said the 6-foot-3-inch All-Big Ten sophomore center.
But she made her last 14, finished 15-of-16 from the floor and scored a career-high 33 points as the Hawkeyes bounced defending champion South Dakota, 78-73, in a second-round WNIT game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Gustafson also had 13 rebounds to tally her 17th double-double of the season, as Iowa improved to 19-13. The Hawkeyes will play the winner of Sunday’s South Dakota State-Colorado game in a third-round contest. The date and site will be announced later.
“I don’t even know what to say about Megan anymore,” Bluder said after her 698th career victory. “Amazing. She is an incredible human being, too. She’s fun to be around and is always positive.”
Gustafson set both a school and arena record for field-goal accuracy (minimum 15 made field goals), and the Hawkeyes needed every one of them Saturday.
“They continued to find a way to get the ball into Gustafson,” South Dakota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “Our kids, at times, were doing as good a job as they could to defend her and she still scored. She played a great basketball game.”
Gustafson was humble after her record-setting performance.
“I know my teammates did a good job of setting me up,” Gustafson said.
Most of Kathleen Doyle’s seven assists went to Gustafson or Hannah Stewart, who added 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor.
“They’re pretty good at finishing those,” Doyle said. “It makes my job really easy.”
Doyle now has 138 assists, a school freshman record. She broke Samantha Logic’s mark of 136 established in 2011-12. Doyle also set a freshman steals record earlier in the season.
“When you think of Sam Logic, and who she was, a first-round WNBA draft pick, and she took that record away, that shows you what the potential is for Kathleen Doyle,” Bluder said.
Senior Ally Disterhoft, who became the Hawkeyes’ career scoring leader in Thursday’s first-round WNIT victory against Missouri State, added 10 points to help keep her college career alive.
Iowa jumped out to a 21-12 lead after one quarter, and scored the first basket of the second quarter, but South Dakota used pinpoint shooting from 3-point range to storm back.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Jaycee Bradley in the final 1:09 of the half gave South Dakota a 34-33 lead. Disterhoft’s two free throws with four seconds left gave Iowa a 35-34 halftime advantage
It was still tied, 55-55, with a quarter to go. But Gustafson’s basket and a 3-pointer by Makenzie Meyer gave Iowa the lead for good.
It was a precarious 72-70 lead when Gustafson got her 13th and final rebound. She grabbed Meyer’s missed 3-pointer with 51 seconds remaining and Bluder called time out. Gustafson then scored on the second-chance opportunity to make it a two-possession lead with 25 seconds to go.
“Gustafson got a huge rebound at the end of the game,” Plitzuweit said. “Not because our kids weren’t trying. She’s just a little bit better than our kids in that position, at that time, and that possession.”
Iowa made its first three 3-point attempts of the game, but missed 12 of the last 13. South Dakota (23-9) made nine of 25 tries from behind the arc. Bradley was 5-ofo-6.
But with Gustafson and Stewart combining to make 20-of-22 field goals, Iowa shot 50 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes also had nine blocked shots. Disterhoft and Chase Coley had three rejections apiece.
“I’m excited to keep playing again,” Bluder said.