The women’s Iowa basketball team took home their first conference championship since 2001 yesterday. Here’s what the win means going forward.
It was a breath of fresh air on an otherwise gloomy Sunday when the women’s Iowa basketball team knocked down #8 Maryland for the second time in less than a month. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the contest, you missed a beautiful game.
Led by All-American and likely front runner for National Player of the Year (if she doesn’t win, it will be an absolute atrocity) Megan Gustafson, the women stormed out to an early lead against the Terrapins, but the women from Maryland fought valiently. At one point, they even tied the game up at 53-all with 7:22 left in the 3rd quarter. From that point on however, it was all Iowa.
A barrage of layups and free throws by seniors Megan Gustafson (10 points) and Kathleen Doyle (6 points) gave the Hawkeyes a 9-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, where the women began to build on the lead even more eventually taking down Maryland 90-76.
Megan Gustafson continued to build a gap between her and any future women Iowa basketball players as she turned in one of the finest performances of her career. She had half of Iowa’s 90 points hitting 17 of 24 shots for 45 points and taking down 10 rebounds to go along with her 3 blocks. It was without a surprise that she was named the Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
This win is huge for the program for a few reasons though.
First, winning the conference tournament is a huge momentum builder for this team heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Second, the tournament win guarantees the Hawks at least get a #2 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, meaning that they get two games at home (where they are undefeated), and they won’t have to face a #1 seed until the Elite Eight.
Third, this incredible performance by the greatest women’s basketball player in Iowa history Megan Gustafson should make her the front runner for National Player of the Year. Personally, I think the award would look real nice next to Gustafson’s collection of Big Ten Awards she received earlier this week.
Last but not least, this Big Ten Championship should only strengthen the case for Lisa Bluder to be named National Coach of the Year.
The women’s Iowa basketball team now must wait until next Sunday for the tournament committee to announce the NCAA Tournament seeding. Game play will begin March 22nd, and the Iowa basketball team will then make it’s run for a national title.