Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa backcourt struggles in 74-65 loss at Nebraska

Another double-double for Megan Gustafson, but 20th-ranked Hawkeyes fall

Iowa women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

LINCOLN, Neb. — Iowa’s Megan Gustafson showed why she is one of, if not the best post player in the Big Ten.

Singlehandedly, the junior kept the No. 20 Hawkeyes in Tuesday’s Big Ten game at Nebraska.

Nebraska’s perimeter depth eventually took hold late as the Huskers held on for a 74-65 win at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nebraska (13-6, 4-2) snapped a five-game losing streak to Iowa (15-4, 4-2), dating back to 2015.

The Hawkeyes lost for the third time in four outings. Iowa is back on the court at 3 p.m. Sunday at Minnesota.

Gustafson poured in a game-high 29 points and 18 rebounds for her NCAA-leading 18th double-double of the season.

Nebraska’s defense made the Iowa junior post expend plenty of energy. Gustafson still had a big night.

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“Watching her first hand at how hard she had to work, she had to work hard to get hers and she still did,” Nebraska Coach Amy Williams said. “That’s how you know you’ve got a special player.”

The difference, though, came on the perimeter. Nebraska was 9-of-25 from the 3-point line, while Iowa was 0-of-7.

“We let them get too many 3s,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “We felt going into this 3-point defense was a key and they shot 40 percent.”

Nebraska’s backcourt depth showed in the second quarter when the Huskers took control. Over a 16-4 run, Nebraska made four 3-point baskets in turning a 24-21 deficit into a 37-26 lead, and 37-28 edge at halftime.

Maddie Simon led Nebraska with 19 points. Hannah Whitish added 18. The duo combined to go 5-of-8 from 3.

Simon came up with important baskets for Nebraska late. Two Simon 3s, combined with two Nicea Eliely free throws, halfway through the fourth quarter pushed Nebraska’s lead from 56-53 to 64-53. Iowa couldn’t come closer than four late.

“She came up with a couple big buckets that gave us that offensive punch we needed to give us that cushion,” Williams said.

Bluder pointed out what the Hawkeyes will be working on the next couple of days.

“We need to get our confidence back,” Bluder said. “We’re a good offensive team and we’re not just showing it right now.”

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Gustafson was 13-of-23 shooting, but the rest of the team was held to 14-of-46. Amanda Ollinger had a career-high 12 points.

Bluder wants the backcourt to relax and shoot like they know they can.

“Our guards are putting too much pressure on themselves and they can’t do that,” Bluder said. “We can knock down shots. Hopefully we can get in the gym and figure that out.”

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