INDIANAPOLIS — Megan Gustafson rewrote the Iowa record book Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Championships, but it wasn’t enough.
The Hawkeye junior scored a school-record 48 points, but a last-second 3-point attempt by Amanda Ollinger fell short and Minnesota edged Iowa 90-89 in a women’s basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"We played our hearts out, but we let up a couple of times on the defensive end, and they stepped up and hit some big shots," Gustafson said. "It was a tough loss, but I’m proud of our effort."
The Big Ten player of the year knocked down 19-of-26 shots from the field and connected on 10-of-12 free throws in addition to recording her 27th double double of the season by grabbing 15 rebounds.
"The basket had to look like an ocean to her," Golden Gophers coach Marlene Stallings said. "We threw five different people at her, and we threw a secondary defender at her most of the night, but credit her, she played at a very high level."
Gustafson’s point total is the highest ever by a player in the 25-year history of the Big Ten tourney and is two points better than Iowa’s previous single-game record of 46 set by Crystal Smith in a 2005 game against Louisiana Tech.
The 48 points also rates as the second-best effort ever by a Hawkeye, male or female, trailing only the 49 points scored by John Johnson in a 1970 game against Northwestern.
Gustafson was more than ready to go Friday after being held to a season-low 12 points in the Hawkeyes’ tournament opener against Northwestern on Thursday.
"I didn’t contribute as much as I normally do, so I think that kind of gave me a little bit of extra motivation," Gustafson said. "My teammates did a great job of feeding me the ball, and I was able to really work on my feet and just get in good position, which helped a lot."
Her work helped Iowa overcome a slow start.
Minnesota scored the game’s first eight points and led 25-17 after one quarter, but 23 first-half points by Gustafson kept Iowa within 42-39 at halftime.
After a Kathleen Doyle 3-pointer tied the game at 61-61, a lay-up by Gustafson pushed the Hawkeyes in front with 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter and gave Iowa a 65-63 lead heading into the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Makenzie Meyer extended the Hawkeye advantage to 68-63 with 9 minutes, 54 seconds remaining, but the Golden Gophers turned one of Iowa’s 19 turnovers into a 3-pointer by Destiny Pitts, which moved Minnesota in front 75-74 with 6:46 to go.
The lead changed hands six times before Iowa went up 87-85 as Gustafson completed a three-point play with 1:23 remaining, but Pitts hit her fourth 3 of the game eight seconds later, and the Golden Gophers (23-7) moved ahead to stay.
Iowa turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and, after a pair of free throws by Minnesota, a Doyle lay-up pulled Iowa within 90-89 with :11 left.
Ollinger stole the inbounds pass, and after a timeout, Doyle moved the ball down court quickly, but the Hawkeyes were unable to score as Gustafson and Ollinger missed as time expired.
"She was covered pretty heavily, and Minnesota just had a good defensive stop," said Meyer, the only other Hawkeye to finish in double figures with a 14-point performance.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder pointed to turnovers and rebounds as the difference for the Hawkeyes (24-7), who had an eight-game win streak snapped.
Led by 27 points from Carlie Wagner and 26 from Kenisha Bell, the Golden Gophers scored 17 points off of Iowa’s 19 turnovers and out-rebounded the Hawkeyes by seven, including a 13-4 edge on the offensive boards.
Combined, they led Minnesota to an 80-61 advantage in shots against Iowa team that shot 54 percent from the field.
"You look at it in a one-point game, and we’re 19 possessions down. They get 80 shots, we get 61. It’s really amazing we were in the game," Bluder said. "But, we shot it well. We just needed one more defensive stop."
While Minnesota advances to face Ohio State today in the semifinals, Iowa will wait until March 12 to learn its NCAA fate.