Hawkeye women fall to Baylor in Elite Eight

Iowa's historic season came to an end on April 1 with an 85-53 loss to No. 1 seed Baylor.

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Hawkeye women fall to Baylor in Elite Eight

Iowa center Megan Gustafson loses the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Iowa center Megan Gustafson loses the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Katina Zentz

Iowa center Megan Gustafson loses the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa center Megan Gustafson loses the ball during the NCAA Sweet 16 game against NC State at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex on Saturday, March 30, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack 79-61.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — It just wasn’t meant to be.

A 26-year Final Four drought will last a little longer for Iowa after it fell to Baylor, 85-53, in the April 1 Elite Eight matchup.

Iowa has surely had better games, but even at its best, it seemed unlikely that the Hawkeyes could ever topple this relentless Bears team.

Baylor imposed its will early on, clearly frustrating Megan Gustafson while making every basket a struggle.

After one quarter, the Bears had a 21-13 advantage, and they continued to press it into the second quarter.

Nothing fell for the Hawkeyes — they finished the half shooting 33.3 percent — while it seemed like everything Baylor put up hit nylon. Its halftime shooting percentage was 54.3.

Gustafson didn’t struggle; she nailed 6 of her 10 shots for 13 points, but the rest of the Hawkeyes couldn’t buy a bucket, going 5-of-23 and making it hard to keep up with Baylor’s constant stream of points.

The second half wasn’t much better. Five minutes into the third, Baylor stretched its lead to 20 as the Hawkeyes continued to toil for baskets to no avail, starting the half 3-of-10.

Then Chloe Jackson nailed a jumper after Lauren Cox scored a Baylor offensive rebound. That put Baylor up 61-38 with 2:15 left in the third, and the Bears sped through the rest of the game on cruise control.

The Baylor trio of Cox, Jackson, and DiDi Richards proved unstoppable for Iowa. All three racked up at least 14 points with Cox pacing the lot; she finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.

For Iowa, Gustafson led the way with 23 points with 9 rebounds.

She also became the fourth player in history to put up 1,000 points in a season and finished her career with over 2,800 points, around 700 more than Ally Disterhoft, who is Iowa’s second-leading scorer all-time.

The rest of the Hawkeyes struggled to score all game, shooting 23.1 percent from the floor.

Still, two other Hawkeyes fought their way to double-digit points with Kathleen Doyle (10 points, 4 steals, 6 assists) and Tania Davis (10 points and 2 assists) combining for 20 points on 6-of-22 shooting.

Makenzie Meyer and Hannah Stewart rounded out the starting five with Stewart pouring in 8 points, 4 rebounds, and a whooping 4 steals, and Meyer struggling mightily from the floor managing only 2 points on 0-of-5 shooting.

With the loss, Iowa will head back to Iowa City after its most successful season under head coach Lisa Bluder, tying the school record for wins in a season (29) and making its first Elite Eight appearance since 1993.

It’s a bitter end to a magnificent season that will surely spark nostalgia as early as next season, when the Hawkeyes hang up a banner commemorating the memorable season.

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