INDIANAPOLIS — The women’s B1G tournament favorite, the Terrapins of Maryland, were picked apart by Megan Gustafson and the rest of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
No. 2 Iowa( 26-6) defeated no.1 Maryland (28-4) 90-76 for the Hawkeyes’ third conference title.
Gustafson was voted the Most Outstanding player of the tournament and set a championship game record with 45 points, half of the team’s total. This was her second tournament 40 point game, another record for the Big Ten. Her 48 points in last year’s tournament is the current high in scoring.
“Every time is special. I mean, these guys, this is a bond that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said after her team’s win. “They will always be Big Ten champs, and we will always carry this journey together, and that is something nobody can take away from us ever.”
Gustafson came into the tournament knowing her team was capable of winning. “I wanted to win a Big Ten championship. That was it. … This is what I wanted coming to Iowa. I wanted a Big Ten championship. I just couldn’t be more proud of how our team played, and it’s a dream come true. That’s for sure.”
Not to be forgotten, Maryland finished the regular season with a B1G-best 28-4 record. Kaila Charles was responsible for 36 points for the Terrapins, shooting 15-30 from two-point range and 6/7 from the free throw line.
Iowa’s first period performance put them in position to stay ahead of Maryland throughout the game. From trailing 0-5 in the first minutes, Iowa at one point led 9-21. Hannah Stewart and Gustafson were the main fuel in the 15-25 lead to end the first period.
Maryland then doubled its 15 points in the second period, outscoring Iowa 30-25. By the halftime buzzer, the scoreboards read Iowa 51, Maryland 45. Iowa was making 63.3 percent of its shots in the first half, compared to Maryland’s 48.6 percent. Maryland was working hard to stay within striking distance of the Hawkeyes, but would not lead the game again.
Though Iowa lost 15 turnovers to Maryland’s 16, the Hawkeyes scored twice as many points off turnovers.
Iowa’s lowest scoring period was the third. Gustafson and Kathleen Doyle were the only two scorers and combined for 18 points. Both teams focused on scoring from the baseline as no long range shots landed in the third.
In the final period, Maryland refused to back down despite growing point difference. Iowa was sent to the line for 12 shots and made 10 of them. Tania Davis went 6/6 from the foul line to extend the lead for Iowa’s 14 point win.
Maryland won the rebound game in the fourth period, but only landed 37.5 percent of its shots.
“[It] just continues to speak volumes of Kaila and just her will to win,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said of Charles’ team-leading performance. “Her competitiveness could not to be denied.”
“She’s just that good. I mean, she’s just that good,” Frese said of Gustafson. “The first time we played them, we tried to run a lot of triangle-and-two and different looks at her, and it didn’t pay off. All the supporting cast hurt us. And again tonight, just trying to figure out who you couldn’t guard. I just think Iowa is a great team. You know, if you stop one, they know how to go to their other options.”
SCORES BY QUARTER
IOWA: 25 26 18 21 – 90
MD: 15 30 15 16 – 76
IOWA: STEWART 3 0 2/2 8; GUSTAFSON 17 0 11/14 45; MEYER 0 2 1/2 7; DAVIS 1 1 9/10 14; DOYLE 4 1 2/2 13; SEVILLIAN 0 1 0/0 3.
MD: JONES 2 0 0/0 4; LEWIS 2 0 1/2 5; CHARLES 15 0 6/7 36; MIKESELL 2 0 2/2 6; WATSON 1 2 0/0 8; AUSTIN 2 0 2/2 6; FRASER 0 0 2/4 2; VUJACIC 1 1 0/0 5; OWENS 2 0 0/0 4.