Keys to the Iowa-Missouri NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament matchup

The Hawkeyes narrowly fought off an upset bid in the first round. It’s clear they need to be better against the Tigers.

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Lily Smith

Iowa center Megan Gustafson speaks with Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen after the Iowa/Mercer NCAA Tournament first round women’s basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, March 22, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bears, 66-61.

Jordan Zuniga and Robert Read

After a nail-biting 66-61 win over No. 15 seed Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball team will get set to take on No. 7 Missouri, which is coming off a 77-76 overtime win, at Carver-Hawkeye Sunday at 1 p.m. with the game broadcasted on ESPN 2.

Before the Hawkeyes take the floor, though,, two Daily Iowan reporters broke down their keys to the game.

3-point offense

Megan Gustafson is the focal point of the Iowa offense, and that won’t change for this game.

She will surely have the majority of points. However, to ensure she has a dominant game, Iowa will need to stretch the floor to give her room to operate down low.

Makenzie Meyer will have the biggest say in how well the Hawkeyes will be able to stretch the floor, as their best 3-point shooter. She showed that March 23 against Mercer, when she hit 5-of-7 shots from deep for 16 points.

It was part of a four-game stretch in which Meyer has shot 46.7 percent from deep, all coming in win or go home situations.

She’s had her best performances this season at the most crucial time, and no game has been more crucial than the Round of 32 matchup against Missouri.

3-point defense

In case it was hard to tell, perimeter play should be a huge factor in Sunday’s game, which means two-way guard play is going to be essential if Iowa wants to play next weekend.

Missouri lives and dies with its 3-point shooting. It has shot 36.3 percent from deep, good enough for 32nd in the nation, but what’s more indicative of how much they rely on the 3 is the percent of points that come from beyond the arc.

A whole 37.7 percent of the Tigers’ points come from deep, which is a major reason why they are 13th in the nation in points per scoring attempt with 1.13.

Forcing Missouri to shoot its shots inside the arc should make it difficult for Missouri to outscore Iowa.

-Jordan Zuniga

Careful passing                                

Iowa needs to be more careful with entry passes. Against Mercer, Iowa won despite committing a season-high 24 turnovers and having a -21 turnover differential.

Many of those turnovers came when trying to get the ball to Megan Gustafson in the post. Getting the ball to Gustafson is always a good idea, but careless passes right to the opponent will not get the job done.

Pace of play

The Hawkeyes need to dictate the pace of play in this game. Iowa is, on average, a much faster-paced team than Missouri.

Iowa averages five more possessions per 40 minutes and cannot let Missouri dictate the pace of play.

Missouri comes in as one of the slowest-paced teams in Division-1, and Iowa needs to make the Tigers uncomfortable with the speed of the game.

-Robert Read

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