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WBB: Wildcats drop final regular season matchup to Iowa

No. 12 Iowa pulled away from Northwestern in the second half for a comfortable win.

Northwestern Athletics

Megan Gustafson put up 34 points to go along with 12 rebounds to lead Iowa (23-6, 14-4) past Northwestern (16-13, 9-9) 74-50 Sunday afternoon.

In the final day of the regular season before the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, the Hawkeyes maintained their perfect record at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the season. Gustafson, the favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year, was 14-of-17 from the field on her Senior Day. Abbie Wolf led the way off the bench for Northwestern with 15 points, mainly procured in garbage time.

The Wildcats never led, but remained within striking distance for the entire first half. Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah scored the game’s first six points, and led a rampaging Northwestern defense to six steals in the first 20 minutes of action.

But Gustafson, quiet for much of the first half while fellow senior Hannah Stewart led the way, got going in the third quarter. Lindsey Pulliam hit a couple of big jumpers to keep Northwestern within striking distance, but Iowa, after putting up just 28 first half points, caught fire.

The Wildcats trailed by 14 heading to the final frame, and from there a couple of quick buckets about sealed things. Gustafson showed why she is a Player of the Year candidate and one of the best to ever play in the Big Ten, besting her season average by five points.

The Hawkeyes, who average the second-most assists per game of any team in the country, finished with 25 despite committing 16 turnovers. Stewart and Kathleen Doyle pitched in 12 points each while combining for 13 of those helpers.

For Northwestern, Kunaiyi-Akpanah finished with 11 points and five rebounds, while Pulliam chipped in 13 and three steals. But a 1-of-14 three point shooting performance, along with a 2-of-15 mark from every starter not named Kunaiyi-Akpanah in the first half, doomed NU against an offense-friendly Hawkeyes outfit.

Northwestern was still without Jordan Hamilton, who they hope will return in time for the Big Ten Championship. The Wildcats will begin play in Indianapolis against Michigan State on Thursday.