By JAMES ALLAN
INDIANAPOLIS — Megan Gustafson was Megan Gustafson and then some on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but the fifth-seeded University of Iowa women’s basketball team came up one point short in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Fourth-seeded Minnesota made a defensive stand with 10.4 seconds remaining to edge the Hawkeyes, 90-89, to end Iowa’s run in Indianapolis.
Gustafson displayed why she was the Big Ten Player of the Year, scoring a career-best, a Big Ten Tournament record, and an Iowa school and tournament record 48 points. She also grabbed 15 rebounds to record her 27th double-double of the season.
The Wisconsin native made 19-of-26 field goals and 10-of-12 free throws in the game. The 19 field goals are also a Big Ten Tournament, school, and Iowa Big Ten Tournament records.
“Yesterday I didn’t contribute as much as I normally do, and I think that gave me a little bit of extra motivation,” said Gustafson of her 12-point performance on Thursday against Northwestern.
“I have to thank my guards, they gave me great passes inside and I was able to work on my feet and get in good position. I knew this was going to be a great game, Minnesota is a great team, and I knew I needed to step up.”
The Hawkeyes played from behind for much of the game, trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half before fighting their way back to tie the game at 61.
Iowa took a 65-63 lead into the fourth quarter and pushed its lead to five twice — the first coming on a Makenzie Meyer 3-pointer six seconds into the fourth. The final seven minutes was a seesaw with two ties and seven lead changes.
The Hawkeyes trailed 90-87 with 52 seconds left when Kathleen Doyle’s wraparound layup pulled Iowa to within one with 35 seconds to play. The Hawkeyes were in a position to win in regulation after Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner turned the ball over with 10.4 seconds to play.
With the game in the balance, Iowa inbounded the ball to Doyle, who went 3/4 of the floor under intense defensive pressure. Minnesota forced Doyle to give the ball up to sophomore Amanda Ollinger, who’s 3-point attempt was off the mark.
“We were hoping to get a fast-break down the court,” said Meyer, who was the only other Hawkeye in double figures with 13 points. “Kathleen did a good job of getting past her defender, we were trying to get the ball to Megan if we had the opportunity.
“She was covered heavily and Minnesota had a good defensive stop, and we didn’t get a good opportunity.”
Iowa had a higher field goal percentage (54.1 to 43.8), won the rebounding battle (41-34), and made six more free throws (18-12), but turnovers plagued the Hawkeyes. Iowa coughed up the ball 19 times, leading to 17 Minnesota points.
Minnesota grabbed the early momentum, storming out to an 8-0 lead before the Hawkeyes fought back to take a 13-12 lead. The Gophers then went on a 13-5 spurt to go up 25-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Iowa fell behind by as many as 12 points (33-21) before Gustafson took over. The forward scored nine points during a 12-0 run and Alexis Sevillian added a 3-pointer to tie the game at 33.
Iowa trailed 42-39 at the half despite a 26-point half from Gustafson — the most of her career.
Four Gophers landed in double digits with Wagner leading the way with 27 points. Kenisha Bell had 26 points and nine assists.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“This was a hard fought game by both teams. Both teams played really hard out there. You get down to a one-point game and we’re 19 possessions down, they have 80 shots, we have 61. It was amazing we were in the game but we were because of our strong shooting. As a whole the team shot the ball well, we just needed one more defensive stop.”
OH MY MEGAN
- Gustafson’s 48-point outburst breaks Iowa’s school record of 46 points held by Crystal Smith in 2005. It also tops Kelsey Mitchell’s Big Ten Tournament record of 43 points and shatters Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament record of 28 points by Tangela Smith in 1998.
- Gustafson scored 48 points — her Iowa teammates finished with 41.
- Minnesota had a 17-2 advantage in fast-break points and had 13 offensive rebounds to Iowa’s six.
- The loss snaps Iowa’s eight-game winning streak that dated back to Jan. 28.
ON TO THE NCAAs
The Hawkeyes will learn their postseason destination and seeding on Selection Monday — March 12.
“We know pretty much that we’re going to be in the NCAA Tournament,” said Gustafson. “We’re going to prepare next week to get better as a team. We’ll get ready to make some noise.”