Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball Senior Day couldn't have been scripted any better

Hawkeyes close out a 15-0 regular-season home slate with a 74-50 win over Northwestern

IOWA CITY — There was no advance orchestration.

“You don’t know ahead of time if it’s going to be a tight game or what,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “You just kind of go with the flow.”

Tania Davis left the game to a standing ovation with 4 minutes left. Then Hannah Stewart.

And finally, with 2:03 remaining, it was Megan Gustafson’s turn. Of course, Gustafson’s exit came right after a basket.

No. 11 Iowa celebrated Senior Day with a 74-50 women’s basketball victory over Northwestern in front of a season-high crowd of 12,051 Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes (23-6 overall, 14-4 Big Ten) completed a perfect regular-season home slate — 15-0.

“There were some pregame nerves,” Bluder said. “It took some time to settle down.”

Iowa clung to a 28-23 halftime advantage, then ran away in the second half. Gustafson scored 24 of her game-high 34 points after intermission.

“I liked that we had the (Senior Day) ceremony afterward,” Gustafson said. “We were able to do our gameday routines, which was super helpful. There was a lot of outside stuff going on with family coming in and it being our last guaranteed last home game.”

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Bluder could be excused for being doubly nervous in pregame. Adding to Sunday’s pomp and circumstance was the fact that her daughter, Emma, was singing the national anthem at Carver.

“I was so nervous,” Bluder said. “Emma, she just said, ‘Mom, I’ll see you on the court.’”

The Hawkeyes broke to a 24-11 lead, then Northwestern (16-13, 9-9) closed with a 12-4 push to get within five points at halftime.

Then, Gustafson owned the second half. She missed two of her first three shots Sunday, then made 13 of her last 14. She drained all six of her free throws and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Gustafson became the 49th player in NCAA Division-I history to score 2,600 career points. With 1,364 rebounds, she is just outside the top 25 all time. And her 82 double-doubles ranks sixth.

Bluder was hoping she could give each of her seniors their own exit from the game, their own standing ovation from the massive crowd.

“It was exactly how I would have wanted a script to go,” she said.

Stewart and Davis both scored 12 points, meaning the senior trio combined for 58 of Iowa’s 74 points. Stewart added six rebounds and six assists; Davis distributed seven assists.

“They’ve left their imprint on our program,” Bluder said.

The majority of the fans stayed for the postgame speeches by the seniors. Tears were few, if any. The players thanked their coaches, their teammates — past and present — and the fans.

The theme continued into the press conference.

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“Hawk fans have been behind me even when I was injured,” said Davis, who has come back from two ACL surgeries. “I got a lot of tweets and comments on Instagram. I may not reply to all of them, but I read them all the time, and they kept me going.”

Stewart said, “When you play in Carver, it’s just different. It’s such an honor to play in front of so many fans that love you and invest in you.”

Abbie Wolf led Northwestern with 15 points.

The Hawkeyes are the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and will face Minnesota or Indiana in the quarterfinal round at 5:30 p.m. (Iowa time) Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis.

 

IOWA 74, NORTHWESTERN 50

At Iowa City

NORTHWESTERN (50): Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah 5-9 1-2 11, Abi Scheid 2-8 0-2 4, Sydney Wood 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsey Pulliam 6-14 1-2 13, Veronica Burton 0-7 0-0 0, Abbie Wolf 7-9 1-2 15, Byrdy Galerink 1-6 2-2 4, Jess Sancataldo 1-4 0-0 3, Bryana Hopkins 0-1 0-0 0, Amber Jamison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 5-10 50.

IOWA (74): Hannah Stewart 6-8 0-0 12, Megan Gustafson 14-17 6-6 34, Makenzie Meyer 0-2 2-2 2, Tania Davis 2-4 2-2 7, Kathleen Doyle 5-9 0-0 12, Alexis Sevillian 2-5 0-0 5, Amanda Ollinger 1-2 0-0 2, Monika Czinano 0-2 0-0 0, Tomi Taiwo 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Zion Sanders 0-0 0-0 0, Paula Valino Ramos 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-49 10-10 74.

Halftime: Iowa 28, Northwestern 23. 3-point goals: Northwestern 1-14 (Scheid 0-4, Pulliam 0-2, Burton 0-5, Galernik 0-2, Sancataldo 1-1), Iowa 4-13 (Meyer 0-2, Davis 1-2, Doyle 2-6, Sevillian 1-3). Team fouls: Northwestern 13, Iowa 9. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Northwestern 22 (Kunaiya-Akpanah 5), Iowa 35 (Gustafson 12). Assists: Northwestern 11 (Burton 3), Iowa 25 (Doyle 7). Steals: Northwestern 9 (Pulliam, Burton 3), Iowa 5 (Stewart, Gustafson 2). Turnovers: Northwestern 10, Iowa 16.

Attendance: 12,051.

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

 

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