Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball searching for a more balanced approach

Megan Gustafson scored more than half of Iowa's points in Purdue loss

Iowa guard Alexis Sevillian (5) shoots a 3-pointer during the Hawkeyes' loss to Purdue on Saturday. Coach Lisa Bluder wants more production out of Megan Gustasfon's supporting cast. Iowa plays at Nebraska on Tuesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa guard Alexis Sevillian (5) shoots a 3-pointer during the Hawkeyes' loss to Purdue on Saturday. Coach Lisa Bluder wants more production out of Megan Gustasfon's supporting cast. Iowa plays at Nebraska on Tuesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes are best when they’re balanced, Coach Lisa Bluder said.

“My dream team is when we have five (players) in double figures,” Bluder said in a teleconference Monday morning.

“I don’t like games when we have a player with 37 points, one with 10 and nobody else in double figures.”

She was describing the Hawkeyes’ attack from Saturday, when Megan Gustafson’s career-high effort went for naught in a 76-70 loss to Purdue.

It was the first loss this season that could be described as a substantial disappointment for the 17th-ranked Hawkeyes (15-3 overall, 3-2 Big Ten), who slipped into a fifth-place tie in the conference.

Iowa has reached a pivotal week in its season. The Hawkeyes face Nebraska (12-6, 3-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. Then it’s a trip to Minnesota (14-5, 3-3) on Sunday.

It’s critical that the Hawkeyes gain at least a split this week, because they host Big Ten-leading Ohio State on Jan. 25.

“This is a tough stretch,” Bluder acknowledged. “We definitely have three tough games in a row. It was be nice to pick up a road victory, because they’re hard to come by.”

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Especially in the short-handed state that they are in. Tania Davis is out for the season with a torn ACL, and Makenzie Meyer will miss her sixth game with a broken hand.

Meyer will have another X-ray taken Wednesday.

Their absence is part of the reason for Iowa’s lack of depth, and thus, lack of scoring balance.

Gustafson was named the Big Ten co-player of the week Monday after her 37-point, 14-rebound outing against Purdue. She has received the league’s top honor six times in 10 weeks this season.

The 6-foot-3 junior post is averaging 23.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, shooting 69.3 percent from the field.

“We’re going to take whatever it takes to win,” Bluder said. “But it makes Megan’s job easier if others get involved.

“We want to have a great player, yes, but we want somebody else that accepts the responsibility to make shots. We’re too easy to guard if just one person is making shots.”

Nebraska suffered a down year last season, when it tied for 11th in the Big Ten and went 7-22 overall. But the Huskers have bounced back quickly.

Four players are averaging in double figures, led by sophomore Hannah Whitish (13.8 ppg) and freshmen Taylor Kissinger (11.8) and Kate Cain (11.0), a 6-foot-5 post.

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“They shoot the 3-pointer very well,” Bluder said. “They have a lot of depth.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.