Megan Gustafson scored 24 points with 19 rebounds, Makenzie Meyer added 18 points and second-seeded Iowa blew past Missouri 68-52 on Sunday to advance to its second Sweet 16 in five years.
Kathleen Doyle scored 15 points for the Hawkeyes (28-6), who put away the Tigers with a blistering 23-4 run in the second half. They’ll face either Kentucky or North Carolina State, who play each other on Monday, in the semifinals of the Greensboro Regional next week.
Tania Davis hit her first 3 of the game to open the fourth quarter, putting Iowa up 50-41, and Meyer’s corner 3 pushed the lead to 13. Gustafson’s jumper over two defenders made it 60-43 with 4:21 to go, capping a spurt that helped Iowa clinch its highest win total in 31 years.
Amber Smith scored 21 points for Missouri (24-11). The Tigers bowed out in the second round for the third time in four years after scoring just 23 points in the second half.
Iowa struggled mightily in beating 15th-seeded Mercer on Friday, and it got off to another sluggish start that was punctuated when Missouri’s Jordan Roundtree hit a half-court bank shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer.
Iowa finally woke up in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes shored up their defense and started feeding Gustafson in the post, fueling a 15-2 run that put the Hawkeyes ahead 33-29 at the break. Missouri responded, tying the game at 39 on an Smith jumper, but Gustafson buried two more inside jumpers to push Iowa ahead 47-41 heading into the fourth.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: Hawkeyes fans will get at least one more opportunity to watch Gustafson, the greatest player in school history. Is Gustafson good enough to help lead Iowa to the Final Four? She might be – but Gustafson’s teammates will need to play above expectations for that to be possible. Gustafson received a standing ovation when she was finally pulled from her final home game with 22.4 seconds to go.
Missouri: The Tigers’ senior class elevated the program to new heights even though they never led the team past the second round. Missouri will likely go through a rebuild next season with starters Sophie Cunningham, Cierra Porter and Lauren Aldridge set to graduate.