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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Whether you call it an off-day shooting by the University of Iowa or credit a spirited defensive effort by Washington State, the result was a season-ending 74-66 loss for the Hawkeyes in the WNIT on Sunday in front of 5,146 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa retires at 20-14; Washington State — winner of six of its last seven games — is 16-19 and advances to a WNIT semifinal against Georgia Tech.
Sophomore Megan Gustafson led Iowa with 19 points and 15 rebounds, her 18th double-double of the season. Senior Ally Disterhoft was 11-of-14 from the free throw line and finished with 16 points. Freshman Kathleen Doyle added 11 points, five rebounds, and two steals with a career-high eight assists.
The Hawkeyes started quickly, leading 20-13 eight minutes into the game. There were five lead changes in the second quarter, but when Caila Hailey made a layup with 1:09 left before halftime, Washington State went on top 31-29. The Cougars stayed in front the rest of the game.
“The first quarter was nice and then after that, (Washington State’s) defense really disrupted us,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We had trouble boxing out and we gave up too many offensive boards and too many second shots for them.”
The Cougars held a slight edge on the boards, 45-42, with 17 offensive rebounds. They also led in second-chance points (16-7) and points in the paint (34-32).
“Washington State turned up its defensive intensity a little bit,” said Disterhoft, who finished her career as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer with 2,102 points. “They got a lot of offensive rebounds, and when a team is offensive rebounding like that and we’re struggling to hit some of our shots, it’s kind of tough.”
Iowa was 18-of-29 from the free throw line and 4-of-23 from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes missed their final 14 3-point attempts and all 13 in the second half.
“We didn’t shoot well from the 3-point line or from the free throw line and obviously those things hurt us,” Bluder said.
Four Washington State players scored in double figures and two had double-doubles. Alexys Swedlund scored a game-high 20 points and Ivana Kmetovska added 14. Pinelopi Pavlopoulou had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Hailey added 10 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists.
“Through these postseason rides so far, we’ve had really close games, and we’ve learned that you have to play for 40 minutes and you can’t give up until the end,” Pavlopoulou said. “It was an awesome game and an awesome atmosphere. We wanted it because of the adversity that we’ve been through this year. It’s just that we can’t give it to anybody. If the other team is better than us, they will have to take it from us.”
The Hawkeyes shot 37 percent from the field (22-of-59), with Gustafson (8-of-13), junior Chase Coley (3-of-5), and sophomore Hannah Stewart (2-of-4) combining to shoot 59 percent.
Iowa finished a season with 20-or-more victories for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.