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IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder called Megan Gustafson "one of the best posts in the Midwest."
By the time Gustafson is done here, that may be a major understatement.
The sophomore logged her best effort yet as an Iowa Hawkeye, notching a career-high 33 points (on 15-of-16 shooting from the floor) and 13 rebounds as Iowa bumped defending-champion South Dakota, 78-73, in a second-round WNIT women’s basketball game in front of 2,294 Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“My teammates did a great job setting me up,” Gustafson said in her typically modest manner.
Iowa (19-13) advances to the third round, which will be Wednesday, Thursday or Friday against Colorado or South Dakota State at a site to be determined.
The Buffaloes and the Jackrabbits play their second-rounder Sunday.
Maybe this is a consolation tournament, but the Hawkeyes are taking full advantage of the opportunity so far.
“We’re treating it as our own NCAA,” Gustafson said. “We’re going to play hard. We’re going to play together. And we’re going to play as long as we can.”
Gustafson made her first four shots, then missed her fifth, a runner from the left side.
“I don’t remember it,” she said.
She made her next 11, including a 10-for-10 second half.
Backup Hannah Stewart, perhaps Iowa’s most improved player this season, matched a career-best with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
“When you go against someone like Megan in practice every day, you’re ready for everything,” Stewart said.
So, simple math says that the Hawkeyes got 44 points — and 20 baskets in 22 attempts — out of their center position.
“I don’t know what to say about Megan any more,” Bluder said. “She was incredible.
“And Hannah, I love to see her confidence growing. She’s playing behind one of the best posts in the Midwest.”
Iowa’s posts had the most, but South Dakota (23-9) went into the fourth quarter in a 55-55 tie.
“If one shot, one rebound goes our way, it could have been a different outcome,” Coyotes Coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “Iowa was just a little better at (the post) position.”
The third quarter featured five lead changes, then Iowa went in front for good with a 6-0 run to start the fourth.
Gustafson converted inside, Makenzie Meyer added a 3-pointer and Ally Disterhoft made a free throw for a 61-55 advantage.
The Coyotes twice got within one point, then 72-70 on Ciara Duffy’s 3-pointer with 1:10 to go.
USD had a chance to tie, but Gustafson corralled the rebound on the defensive end, then scored with 26 seconds left for a 74-70 margin.
The newly minted Iowa career scoring leader, Disterhoft added 10 points. Kathleen Doyle added eight points and seven assists and replaced Samantha Logic as Iowa’s freshman assists leader with 138.
“When you’ve got someone as good (as Gustafson), it makes my job pretty easy,” Doyle said.
The Hawkeyes also blocked nine shots.
“We did a good job getting out on their shooters,” Disterhoft said. “Sometimes, we got a little lucky. We jumped at the right time.”
Allison Arens paced South Dakota with 24 points. Jaycee Bradley was 5 of 6 from long range and added 17 points; Ciara Duffy scored 14.
Iowa led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but it was a dogfight at 35-34 at intermission.
IOWA 78, SOUTH DAKOTA 73
WNIT Second Round, at Iowa City
SOUTH DAKOTA (73): Bridget Arens 3-4 0-0 7, Abigail Fogg 2-6 2-2 7, Allison Arens 7-16 10-13 24, Jaycee Bradley 6-8 0-0 17, Ciara Duffy 5-15 3-3 14, Taylor Frederick 0-5 0-0 0, Madison McKeever 1-5 1-2 4. Totals 24-59 16-20 73.
IOWA (78): Megan Gustafson 15-16 3-5 33, Ally Disterhoft 2-10 5-6 10, Makenzie Meyer 2-7 1-2 7, Kathleen Doyle 3-13 2-2 8, Bre Cera 1-2 0-0 2, Alexa Kastanek 1-3 4-4 7, Chase Coley 0-1 0-0 0, Hannah Stewart 5-6 1-1 11, Christina Buttenham 0-0 0-0 0, Amanda Ollinger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-58 16-20 78.
Halftime: Iowa 35, South Dakota 34. 3-point goals: South Dakota 9-25 (B.Arens 1-1, Fogg 1-3, A.Arens 0-5, Bradley 5-6, Duffy 1-6, Frederick 0-1, McKeever 1-3), Iowa 4-16 (Disterhoft 1-4, Meyer 2-4, Doyle 0-4, Cera 0-1, Kastanek 1-3). Team fouls: South Dakota 20, Iowa 16. Fouled out: B.Arens, Fogg. Rebounds: South Dakota 31 (B.Arens 8), Iowa 38 (Gustafson 13). Assists: South Dakota 13 (A.Arens 6), Iowa 23 (Doyle 7). Steals: South Dakota 7 (A.Arens 3), Iowa 5 (Doyle 3). Turnovers: South Dakota 14, Iowa 15.
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