Gustafson’s record-setting performance sinks Lady Toppers

WKU Guard Sherry Porter (22) looks to make a pass during the Lady Toppers 82-63 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday Feb. 3, 2018 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Drake Kizer

A record-breaking night from Iowa star Megan Gustafson caused the WKU women’s basketball team to be blown out in a 104-67 loss Tuesday night. 

The Hawkeyes (2-0) scored the game’s opening basket and never looked back, defeating the Lady Toppers (0-3) by nearly 40 points thanks to a whopping 68.9 field goal percentage for the game. Gustafson, a 2017 Second-Team All-American, finished the night with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa. She was a perfect 13 for 13 from the field during the game, which set a new school record and also a Big Ten conference record.

“The kids are learning and, you know, these are some tough lessons,” head coach Greg Collins said postgame. “We’ll have some more games that’ll be against teams that are ranked in the country, but everybody in our conference isn’t going to be in the top 15 in the country. So, we’ll be okay. We’re going to keep working.”

The Lady Toppers were led by redshirt junior Alexis Brewer and sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy. The duo combined to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists. Brewer scored 14 points and dished out five assists, while Elgedawy grabbed eight rebounds to complement her 14 points.

“A positive thing is our scoring is still really balanced,” junior guard Whitney Creech said. “We have four different players in double digits and…that’s kind of showing people that we just don’t depend on one or two people, the whole team is a threat and that we can put the ball in the basket.”

Gustafson opened the game with a bucket for Iowa. After both teams traded baskets back-and-forth early in the quarter, Iowa went on a 6-0 run at one point during the period. Sophomore guard Sherry Porter came in off the bench and added five points for WKU. The Lady Toppers concluded the period trailing 26-16.

After the Lady Toppers began the second quarter trailing by only 10, junior guard Makenzie Meyer opened the frame with two straight 3-pointers for Iowa.

But after being down by as much as 24, WKU was able to mount a scoring run of its own late in the quarter. The Lady Toppers ended the second period on a 12-2 run, which trimmed their halftime deficit to 14 points. The Lady Toppers went into the locker room trailing the Hawkeyes 50-36.

WKU got going during the first half thanks to strong efforts from Brewer and Elgedawy.

After hitting two 3-pointers in the first quarter, Brewer added two more 3-pointers in the second period, bringing her point total to 12 in the first half. Elgedawy was able to find success inside against the Hawkeyes, leading WKU in points and rebounds at the half with 14 and six, respectively.

The duo’s fortunes did not extend into the second half: Brewer scored only two points and Elgedawy was held scoreless during the final 20 minutes of the contest.

“She’s learning [that] to be the one in the middle of the offense, you’ve got to be pretty strong,” Collins said of Elgedawy’s performance. “It’s a different game than international basketball. She was very successful in international basketball and I think she’s going to be very successful here in American-style basketball, she’s just adjusting to the style of play.”

After scoring only two points in the first half, redshirt junior Dee Givens opened the third frame with a 3-pointer, which brought the Lady Toppers within 11 points. After that, Iowa went on an absolute tear, outscoring WKU 29-7 to close the quarter and extending its lead to 33 points.

“I think coming out of halftime, we wanted to come out with a spark,” Porter said. “We wanted to cut the lead to try to get it under 10…I think it was a little miscommunication out there on D, but it’s just some little small things that we have to work on so we could be successful.”

Gustafson helped Iowa finish the third quarter strong, as she hit four field goals in the closing minutes of the frame. Gustafson’s 10 points in the third quarter matched WKU’s entire offensive output, as the Lady Toppers were outscored 29-10.

Gustafson continued to dominate early in the fourth quarter, burying three more field goal attempts before leaving the contest. 

During the fourth quarter, Givens hit her second and third 3-pointers of the evening. Givens, who came into tonight’s contest averaging 19.5 points per game, finished with 13 points.

The Lady Toppers shot their worst game of the season from the field, registering a 35.8 percentage for the game. But WKU shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc, which was its best 3-point shooting performance of the young season.

“I felt like the effort was strong in the first half,” Collins said. “Then we came out in the second half and…it just got away because we repeatedly made several mistakes. We subbed, took some bad shots…and I think then they kind of lost their confidence that they could compete with them. Then we kind of turned it more into a practice and we were trying to work on the things that we could do to get better as a team.”

Following the loss, WKU will hit the road to take on Central Michigan, a Sweet 16 team from a season ago. The matchup will mark the Lady Toppers’ first meeting with the Chippewas in program history. The game is scheduled to begin this Saturday at 12 p.m. from McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Sports reporter Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected] Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.