Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball downs Maryland for share of Big Ten lead

Megan Gustafson wears down the Terrapins with 31 points, 24 in the second half in 86-73 win

IOWA CITY — Double-team her. Pound on her. Beat on her.

It doesn’t matter.

“We’re always hunting for Megan,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “In the end, she’s going to wear teams out.”

Megan Gustafson scored 24 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, and 13th-ranked Iowa joined No. 8 Maryland in a first-place deadlock atop the Big Ten women’s basketball standings with an 86-73 victory in front of a season-high crowd of 10,716 Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes (21-5 overall) and the Terrapins (23-3) both are 12-3 in league play with three games to go.

“We get every team’s best shot, and we got it today,” said Maryland Coach Brenda Frese, a Cedar Rapids native.

The win was Iowa’s first against Maryland in seven tries since the Terrapins joins the Big Ten in 2014.

Gustafson became the 71st player in Division-I women’s basketball history to surpass the 2,500-point mark. She did it despite a slow start in which she missed four of her first five shots.

“They threw extra bodies at me, a box-and-one ... I was able to try to figure out what to do,” she said.

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Just when Iowa seemed to be gaining game-breaking traction — Gustafson’s two free throws put Iowa up 58-48 late in the third quarter — Maryland scored 11 straight points to steal the lead.

It changed hands three more times, then Gustafson put the Hawkeyes on her back. She scored 12 of Iowa’s 14 points as Iowa held to a 72-69 edge.

Then Alexis Sevillian drained a clutch 3-pointer, and Maryland didn’t get closer than four points again.

“Lexi’s 3 was huge,” Bluder said.

Kaila Charles’ basket brought Maryland within 77-73 with 1:30 left. It was the only basket of the game for Maryland’s scoring leader, after 12 straight misses.

“It was an uncharacteristic game for Kaila,” Frese said. “Their defensive game plan was spectacular. She won’t have another game like that in the future.”

Iowa scored the final nine points. Tania Davis made the second of two free throws, Makenzie Meyer hit four in a row (she’s 31 of 31 this season), then Hannah Stewart added two more. Kathleen Doyle’s steal and layup wrapped it up.

Gustafson grabbed 17 rebounds and drew 12 fouls. Charles and Brianna Fraser fouled out.

After the horn sounded and the Hawkeyes celebrated, Frese found Gustafson at the front of the handshake line.

“I just told her I’ve liked watching her growth, into the player she has evolved into,” Frese said.

Davis added 13 points. Stewart and Doyle added 12 apiece.

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“Nobody wants to leave Megan,” Davis said. “That leaves driving lanes for the rest of us.”

Stephanie Jones scored 21 points to pace Maryland. Taylor Mikesell added 14, Blair Watson 13.

The Hawkeyes have won 18 consecutive games at home, including 14 this season.

Iowa built a 25-18 lead in the second quarter, then Maryland scored 11 straight points for its largest lead at 29-25. It was 33-33 at halftime.

The Hawkeyes have road games upcoming against Indiana (Thursday) and Nebraska (next Monday), then close out the regular season March 3 at home against Northwestern.

IOWA 86, MARYLAND 73

At Iowa City

MARYLAND (73): Shakira Austin 2-4 3-5 7, Stephanie Jones 10-16 1-3 21, Kaila Charles 1-13 0-0 2, Taylor Mikesell 6-12 0-0 14, Blair Watson 5-8 0-0 13, Channise Lewis 2-7 0-0 6, Brianna Fraser 4-9 0-0 8, Sara Vujacic 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 31-75 4-8 73.

IOWA (86): Hannah Stewart 5-11 2-2 12, Megan Gustafson 10-18 11-12 31, Makenzie Meyer 2-6 4-4 8, Tania Davis 5-8 1-2 13, Kathleen Doyle 3-9 6-6 12, Amanda Ollinger 1-3 1-1 3, Alexis Sevillian 2-5 2-2 7, Monika Czinano 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-60 27-29 86.

Halftime: Iowa 33, Maryland 33. 3-point goals: Maryland 7-23 (Charles 0-2, Mikesell 2-7, Watson 3-5, Lewis 2-5, Vujacic 0-4), Iowa 3-13 (Meyer 0-4, Davis 2-4, Doyle 0-2, Sevillian 1-3). Team fouls: Maryland 25, Iowa 10. Fouled out: Charles, Fraser. Rebounds: Maryland 37 (Austin 9), Iowa 41 (Gustafson 17). Assists: Maryland 13 (Mikesell 5), Iowa 18 (Doyle 5). Steals: Maryland 5 (Mikesell 2), Iowa 5 (Doyle 3). Turnovers: Maryland 14, Iowa 13.

Attendance: 10.716.

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

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