INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — There was no stopping Iowa’s Megan Gustafson once she got the ball in the post.
Minnesota managed to avoid that problem when it needed to the most.
Iowa failed to get a quality shot off on the last possession of the game and the Gophers held on for a 90-89 win in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Gustafson not only played like the conference’s player of the year, but she looked the part of an All-American. She scored 48 points, setting a Big Ten tournament and Iowa single-game record, shooting 19 of 26 from the field, setting a tournament single-game record for made field goals.
“I think she was just in the zone,” Minnesota Coach Marlene Stollings said. “The basket had to look like an ocean to her. We threw five different people at her. We also threw a secondary defender at her most of the night. She was working very hard for some of those, if not all of them. ... She played at a very high level tonight.”
But when Iowa needed to get the ball to Gustafson the most, the Gophers’ defense didn’t allow them to do so.
The Hawkeyes (24-7) forced a turnover with 11 seconds remaining in the game, trailing 90-89. Iowa called a timeout and initially thought the ball would be inbounded near midcourt, but was then told the inbounds would occur underneath Minnesota’s basket.
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle took the inbounds and made it down court quickly, but got slightly bumped near the top of the perimeter. Amanda Ollinger ended up with the ball and her last-second 3-pointer didn’t come close to hitting rim.
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“We were hoping to get a fast break down the court,” said Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer, who scored 13 points. “Kathleen did a really good job of getting past her defender. We were trying to get the ball to Megan if we got the opportunity, but I think she was covered pretty heavily. Minnesota had a good defensive stop and we didn’t really get a good opportunity.”
That was one of the few times Gustafson didn’t impose her will on the offensive end. Her school-record performance came one day after scoring a season-low 12 points in a win over Northwestern.
“I didn’t contribute as much as I normally do,” Gustafson said. “That gave me a little extra motivation. I just have to thank my guards and they gave me great passes.”
Iowa shot a higher percentage than Minnesota from the field, 54-43 percent. But the Gophers (23-7) managed to get 19 more shots thanks to 12 fewer turnovers and seven more offensive rebounds than the Hawkeyes. Bluder said it was “amazing” her team remained in the game despite allowing so many more shots.
The Gophers continually looked to push the tempo and held a 17-2 advantage in transition scoring. If they didn’t score in transition, Minnesota didn’t spend much time attacking the basket out of the half-court set.
“I think we play really well in a fast-paced game and can score well in transition,” Meyer said. “There were times we started playing Minnesota’s game more and that’s where the turnovers came.”