IOWA CITY – Megan Gustafson still has some things to work on as the Iowa women’s basketball team continues its run through the WNIT.
After all, the sophomore did miss one of the 16 shots she attempted in the Hawkeyes’ win over South Dakota on Saturday.
Gustafson will work on improving on that today when Iowa hosts Colorado in a 7 p.m. game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, seeing the same type of inside opportunities which led her to a career-high 33-point performance in the tourney’s second round.
“Their strength is on the perimeter, a lot like South Dakota, so there are some things inside we hope to take advantage of,’’ said Gustafson, who has scored at least 20 points 15 times this season for Iowa.
“They have good players inside, too, but we know a key for us will be to defend the three and offensively, either take it to basket or put ourselves in a position where we are able to kick it back out.’’
Either way, Gustafson figures to be in the middle of it all.
The 6-foot-3 post player averages a double-double for Iowa, leading the Hawkeyes with 18.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.
She enters the game against the Buffaloes (17-15) following one of the most dominant performances of her college career although it was far from the 64 points she scored in her final high school game at Port Wing, Wisconsin.
“The competition’s a little different here,’’ Gustafson said.
The objective, however, remains unchanged.
Gustafson’s desire to improve her game hasn’t gone unnoticed by Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, who believes the second-year starter is on the cusp of becoming the most effective post player in the Big Ten.
“That’s probably the next step for her,’’ Bluder said.
Bluder points to the growth she has seen in Gustafson’s game between her freshman and sophomore seasons as an example of the potential that exists.
“She is averaging eight more points per game, her rebounding average has about doubled and her field goal percentage is up 10 percent,’’ Bluder said. “She’s made some great strides.’’
Gustafson is shooting 64.9 percent from the field, but has helped herself at the line as well.
Bluder recalls challenging her last summer to become a better free throw shooter after she shot 61.5 percent as a freshman. Gustafson has responded with a 79.5-percent touch this season, knocking down 101-of-127 attempts.
“She really took that to heart,’’ Bluder said. “She has some things to work on this summer, too, and we’ll talk about that with her once the season ends, but I know she’ll approach it the same way.’’
Gustafson plans to approach Iowa’s third WNIT game the same way she approached the first two.
“I’m excited to play right now and see where this can lead,’’ Gustafson said. “The idea is to do whatever it takes to win. With so many underclassmen on the team, the more games we get to play the better it is for our future.’’
Gustafson said the Hawkeyes are continuing to search for greater consistency in their game.
She points to a strong start and a strong finish against South Dakota, beginning and ending efforts that included better intensity than Iowa (19-13) showed during the middle quarters of its 78-73 win over South Dakota.
“We let them back in it and we need to learn from that and keep working hard to put teams away,’’ Gustafson said.
She doesn’t count on hitting 15-of-16 shots again – the top-shooting game ever by a Hawkeye to attempt 15 field goals in a game – but Gustafson is ready to take whatever opportunities are there.
“My teammates did a great job of setting me up the other day. We played a great team game and that put me in a position to have the kind of day I did,’’ Gustafson said. “It was a special day. Hopefully, we can all have a few more days like that yet this season.’’