IOWA CITY — Another bump in the road. No problem for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
The Hawkeyes played Saturday’s regular-season finale with Indiana without starting guard Alexis Sevillian, who was out with the flu. Four guards have started this season for the Hawkeyes and all have missed time with various ailments.
“At least we had a day’s notice this time,” quipped Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder.
As it has done all season, Iowa made adjustments on the fly. Linn-Mar graduate Amanda Ollinger stepped into the starting lineup and the Hawkeyes bolted to a 20-5 advantage and were never in any real danger the rest of the way in a 75-62 victory before a crowd of 6,921 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
With a 23-6 record (11-5 in the Big Ten) in their pocket, the Hawkeyes are assured of no worse than the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament which starts Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Iowa can move up to the No. 4 seed and a double-bye if Minnesota loses Sunday at Illinois, which hasn’t won a conference game to this point.
Bluder said she expects to have Sevillian back for the Big Ten tournament. Saturday’s game was the first she has missed this year. Fellow guards Tania Davis (out for the year with a torn ACL), Kathleen Doyle (ankle) and Makenzie Meyer (broken hand) have missed time.
Bluder lauded her players for once again taking up the challenge.
“For us to come out and do this today without Lexi, who does have influenza, and adjust on the fly ... I’m just really proud of our team.”
Both teams came into Saturday’s game on a roll. Indiana (16-13, 9-7) had won eight straight while the Hawkeyes were 6-0 in February.
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“This was another great Iowa game,” Bluder said. “We came out and had a good first quarter. We talked about coming out and establishing ourselves. We’ve talked about that all February.”
When Iowa establishes itself, the focal point is junior center Megan Gustafson. The all-American candidate scored Iowa’s first four baskets en route to a 36-point, 15-rebound effort. Fellow post Hannah Stewart also had a strong game with 10 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes.
Gustafson isn’t one to say much about her own accomplishments, but teammate Chase Coley, who, along with Carly Mohns, was honored in a postgame ceremony for the graduating seniors, sang her praises.
“She’s just incredible to play with,” Coley said of Gustafson. “She’s just incredible to play with. It’s been a blast to play with her and Hannah and the rest of this team.”
While Gustafson was having another Gustafson-like performance, Indiana senior Tyra Buss, the Hoosiers’ all-time leading scorer struggled. She shot 4 of 15 from the floor, finishing with just 12 points, far below her 21.1 average.
“We did not want Tyra Buss to take this game over,” Bluder said. “The last two games, she had 36 and 39 (actually 37 and 36). She gets 12 today. We knew if we were focusing on Tyra and Amanda Cahill (who led the Hoosiers with 14), that we would let someone else try to beat us.”
Iowa held the Hoosiers to 32.8-percent shooting for the game.
With Sevillian out, Meyer played all 40 minutes, scoring 13 points. Coley had 12 in her final game at Carver. She reflected on the day for her and Mohns.
“Carly doesn’t show much emotion,” she said. “I feel like ... I try not to get sad. It was fun to come out in my last game at Carver and have a good game.”
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Iowa will now await the completion of action Sunday for its seed and opponent in the Big Ten tournament. If the Hawkeyes remain the No. 5 seed, they will open tournament play Thursday at approximately 1:30 p.m. If they move up to the No. 4 slot, the Hawkeyes will play in the quarterfinals at around 1:30 p.m. Friday.