Stewart leads Iowa over Purdue

Purdue was ready for Megan Gustafson in the game against the Hawkeye women on Sunday afternoon, but they forgot about Hannah Stewart.


Lily Smith

Iowa forward Hannah Stewart guards Purdue guard Cassidy Hardin during the Iowa/Purdue women’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 27, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 72-58.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

With an emphatic downward swing of her left arm in the final minute of Sunday afternoons game, Megan Gustafson swatted away Karissa Mclaughlin’s shot and Purdue’s hopes of an upset.

“I wanted to put a little extra on that,” said Gustafson, smiling after the game.

Her frustration showed with that block, as it came near the end of what could be considered a rare off-night for the 6-3 All-American.

Gustafson may have finished with her trademark double-double performance — 25 points with 11 rebounds and 2 assists — but it wasn’t in her typical dominant fashion.

She shot 50 percent in the contest, including a stretch where she missed six straight shots. This came from the same player who leads the nation in field goal percentage with 71.3.

For an average player that’s a solid game; for a dominant player like Gustafson, it’s a subpar performance.

Sunday’s game against Purdue was the first time Gustafson has shot under 50 percent since March 1 of last year.

When asked about whether or not Gustafson considered her performance below standard, she predictably threw the focus back on the team.

“[Purdue is] a good defensive team,” Gustafson said “At the end of the day the focus isn’t on me it’s on the team, and what our mission is. That’s what I’m focused on.”

Despite the mortal performance from Gustafson, the Hawkeyes were able to chunk out a 10-point halftime lead and survive a vicious third-quarter run by the Boilermakers.

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That, in large part, was due to the play of Gustafson’s counterpart down low Hannah Stewart.

Stewart entered the game as an important piece for the Hawkeyes, but this was her biggest performance yet. She flung up 21 points on a sizzling 10-of-12 shooting, also corralling 7 rebounds and a block.

“I can’t say enough about Hannah Stewart,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “A career-high 21 points and 10 field goals. What a great performance for Hannah.”

After the game, Stewart gave credit to the extra practice she did after being unhappy with her performance against Rutgers, in which she recorded a season-low 4 points.

“I wasn’t happy with my offensive performance,” Stewart said. “There was a couple of times this week where I just got in the gym at night and just shot baskets. I realized I had been thinking too much on things.”

At the start of the fourth quarter, it looked as if she might even outscore Gustafson, a feat only accomplished two other times this season.

“I went up to her in the middle of the game and was like, ‘Megan are you going to let me score more points than you?’ Stewart said. “I think she took it as a challenge”

Whether it was a challenge or some other factor, Gustafson returned to form in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, knocking down 12 points, grabbing 5 rebounds and swatting away 2 baskets.

Her commanding play in the fourth quarter was a big reason why the Hawkeyes outscored Purdue 23-11 in the fourth.

Next, Iowa will hit the road for two straight games. It will take on Michigan in Ann Arbor on Thursday and Penn State in University Park on Feb. 3.