Gustafson, Disterhoft lead Iowa women to opening win

Mark Emmert,

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Ally Disterhoft was the only one in Carver-Hawkeye Arena who didn’t flinch when sirens sounded Friday.

“Megan was pretty hot at that point, so I was not entirely surprised,” Disterhoft said, referencing her Iowa women’s basketball teammate, Megan Gustafson.

Gustafson, a sophomore, scored a career-high 25 points as the Hawkeyes got into an offensive groove early and breezed past Oral Roberts 96-76 in their season opener before an announced crowd of 4,254.

Disterhoft, a senior guard, added a career high of her own with 29 points, making all nine of her two-point field-goal attempts. She also made 11-of-13 free throws.

“I think our team did a really good job of staying focused,” Disterhoft said of the confusion that filled the arena when sirens sounded in the second quarter and fans were told to exit. “When something like that happens, it’s a little bit bizarre.”

There was no reason for concern, however, as fans calmly returned to their seats minutes later. The cause was apparently a minor kitchen fire that should not have prompted a building-wide emergency, athletic director Gary Barta told reporters.

No alarms were going to slow Gustafson anyway. The 6-foot-3 center spent the offseason working on adding strength and improving her footwork on post moves, and it showed. She added 12 rebounds and helped the Hawkeyes to a 50-18 advantage in points in the paint.

“I think it’s pretty encouraging,” Gustafson said. “My teammates do a great job of setting me up, seeing if I’m open down low.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder substituted five players at a time from the outset, using 11 in the first quarter alone. No one played more than 27 minutes or picked up more than three fouls.

“I want to use our depth. I want to use our balance,” Bluder said. “If we can save our players’ legs by doing a platoon, I think that’s good for us. I think it keeps everybody involved as well. I think it develops some younger players. I think it helps us wear out other teams in the fourth quarter.”

Gustafson wore out the Golden Eagles from the outset. She had 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Hawkeyes opened a 53-30 lead.

“I think she’s just added a lot to her offensive game and she’s been making some really great decisions,” Disterhoft said of Gustafson.

“It’s really promising when you have a great inside-outside game like I think we do.”

Iowa next hosts Hampton at noon Sunday.