clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maryland women’s basketball vs. Iowa preview

The Terps play a crucial game against the No. 14 Hawkeyes.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland women’s basketball (23-2, 12-2 Big Ten) opened the season on a 12-game winning streak through nonconference play, and now the team has won its last eight contests against Big Ten foes.

Following a revengeful win over Rutgers on Sunday, the Terrapins knew their biggest challenge would come exactly one week later against a No. 14-ranked Iowa team led by Megan Gustafson. They could have overlooked a mediocre Nebraska team on Thursday and had a letdown performance, but instead, the Terps ran away for a 26-point victory. Now, they have all the momentum on their side as they travel to Iowa City to face off against the Hawkeyes.

Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Sunday, and the game can be watched on ESPN2.

No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten)

2017-18 record: 24-8 (11-5 Big Ten)

Head coach Lisa Bluder is in her 19th season in Iowa City, making the postseason in 17 seasons thus far. That includes 13 NCAA Tournament berths, including nine in the last 11 seasons, as the Hawkeyes have become a staple as a Big Ten representative. Bluder has been a constant in the state of Iowa, as she wrapped up her playing career at Northern Iowa before serving as head coach at St. Ambrose and Drake.

Players to know

Megan Gustafson, senior, forward, 6’3, No. 10. Gustafson was one of the best players in college basketball last season. She led the nation in points, averaging 25.7 per game, while shooting an astounding 67.1 percent. And she was also a beast on the glass, securing 12.8 rebounds per contest, fifth in the country. Now in her final season, Gustafson has somehow been even better. She currently averages 27.3 points and 13 rebounds per game, and she is shooting 70.9 percent from the floor.

Hannah Stewart, senior, forward, 6’2, No. 21. Stewart had been limited to a bench role in her first three years with the Hawkeyes, as she averaged 5.2 points per game while never earning a single start. But in her final season, Stewart has been terrific. The senior is currently averaging 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, both second on the team among those who are currently healthy, and she’s been a great complement to Gustafson in the post.

Tania Davis, senior, guard, 5’3, No. 11. Davis’ sophomore campaign was her breakout, as she averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 assists per game before a torn ACL cut her season short. That caused her to miss most of the 2017-18 season, but when she returned, she showed the potential she has when healthy. And thankfully for Davis and the Hawkeyes, she’s played great thus far while starting all 25 games. Her 10.6 points per game are fourth on the squad, and she is the leading facilitator with 4.8 assists per game.


Offense. Iowa has made its living this season on the offensive end of the court, as the Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten and rank 14th in the country with 80.3 points per game. That’s all due to their impressive shooting, as they are hitting 52.3 percent of their field goals, second in the nation, and 59.3 percent of their two-point shots, which leads all teams.


Defense. As great as Iowa has been on offense, it has struggled defensively. The Hawkeyes currently surrender 68.1 points per game to opponents, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten and 257th in the nation out of 349 Division I teams. And in two of the team’s three losses, it gave up 90 and 84 points to Michigan and Michigan State, respectively.

Three things to watch

1. Who stops Megan Gustafson? Simply put, this game can and will be won or lost based on the superstar’s performance. She accounts for over a third of her team’s total points this season, and she’s ridiculously efficient to boot. But while Gustafson averages 20.1 points per game for her career, the Terps have held her to just 12 points per game, winning all five matchups.

2. Can Maryland start out strong? It’s no coincidence that in both of Maryland’s losses this season, it has fallen behind right away and failed to keep up. In the current eight-game winning streak, the Terrapins have been aggressive early on. Iowa can score at a torrid pace, so it’s absolutely vital that the Terps don’t find themselves staring down an early deficit.

3. Will Shakira Austin break out? Gustafson is going to have all eyes on her on both ends, but the Terps have an incredibly talented big as well. Austin has been inconsistent so far this season, and in what may be the biggest game of the season, a strong performance can help neutralize the Hawkeyes’ superstar center. Whether it’s beating her inside on offense or blocking shots on defense, Austin’s play may be the difference-maker on Sunday.