The Ohio State women’s basketball team could not stop Iowa Hawkeye senior forward Megan Gustafson enough to get the win on Sunday.
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year torched the Buckeye defense, shooting 14-19 from the field for 29 points along with 16 rebounds to give the No. 16 Hawkeyes (19-5, 10-3 Big Ten) the 78-52 victory against Ohio State (10-12, 6-7 Big Ten).
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff gave all the credit to Gustafson for beating the Buckeyes.
“She’s an incredibly efficient player,” McGuff said. “She had 29 points on only 19 shots, so she really knows how to play the game. She understands angles, and she gives her teammates a great target to throw the ball too. And then she also knows how to function within their offense well to get the ball into the basket.”
Despite being down 19-9 early in the first quarter, the Buckeyes fought back in the second quarter, led by freshman forward Aaliyah Patty, who came off the bench to score eight points in that quarter, 11 points total on the game.
Gustafson was held to only four points total that quarter.
This effort helped Ohio State close the Iowa lead from 19-9 to 31-27 and went into the locker room at halftime with momentum on its side.
However, the third quarter was where the game started to unravel for the Buckeyes. Led by Gustafson’s 15 points, Iowa scored 27 to effectively put the game out of reach.
Freshman forward Dorka Juhasz felt Ohio State did its best to stop Gustafson, but the senior forward’s experience was a key factor in her success.
“In the beginning, I thought that we were guarding her well,” Juhasz said. “But in the second half, that stopped working and we couldn’t get there in time to steal passes and that meant she scored. We knew that she was a great player, and we knew that she would come out of the locker room after halftime and she’s a senior, so she was going to execute.”
Juhasz was one of the lone bright spots from the starting lineup for Ohio State. Despite still recovering from an ankle injury sustained back in January against Michigan State, Juhasz had her second consecutive double double, this time scoring 12 points with 10 rebounds.
While not feeling 100 percent, Juhasz still felt she made a lot of improvement in Sunday’s game.
“I would not say that I am back to full health like before the injury,” Juhasz said. “It’s always worse after the games, but during the game I was not even thinking about it.”
Sunday’s game saw very quiet performances from three members of the Buckeye starting lineup. Redshirt senior guards Carmen Grande and Carly Santoro did not find the basket and redshirt senior forward Makayla Waterman put up five points, all of which came in the fourth quarter, with six rebounds.
McGuff said Iowa had a very good defensive game plan that factored into limiting its key scorers, but the blame falls on a lack of execution.
“We rely on those guys so much and they’ve been so consistently good,” McGuff said. “They just didn’t have the same night as normal for us. We competed for most part of the game, but our focus on execution was not where it needed to be. Against a team like Iowa, you’ve got to keep up with them by scoring the ball, because they are so good on offense.”
Freshman guard Janai Crooms had another solid performance scoring 10 points with a season high seven assists.
Patty, redshirt senior guard Adreana Miller and sophomore guard Jensen Caretti combined for 25 points out of 52 off the bench. Miller scored 11 and was 2-4 from the 3-point line while Caretti sunk a 3 in the first quarter.
McGuff praised the bench for their efforts and gave them credit for keeping the team in the game.
“I thought our bench stepped up and really gave us a lot of energy,” McGuff said. “When we substituted, we seemed to play with a little more energy and gave us more offense, so they did a great job.”
Ohio State will travel to face Rutgers on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Rutgers Athletic Center.