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Hawkeyes’ Gustafson maintains team focus | Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball

IOWA CITY — Megan Gustafson plans to begin work on a history project Sunday that has nothing to do with the senior’s latest rewrite of the Iowa women’s basketball record book.

As the 16th-ranked Hawkeyes tip off Big Ten play with a noon game at 21st-ranked Michigan State, Gustafson needs just nine points to pass the 2,102 points Ally Disterhoft collected between 2013-17 and become Iowa’s career scoring leader.

A little over three weeks after breaking the Hawkeyes’ 38-year-old career rebounding mark during a win over Iowa State, her energies remain more focused on team goals and helping the Hawkeyes contend for a Big Ten championship.

“We have a chance to do some special things this season as a team, and that’s really the only thing that matters to me,” Gustafson said before the Hawkeyes opened the current season.

Picked to finish second behind Maryland in Big Ten preseason coaches and media polls, Iowa enters conference play as one of four conference teams in this week’s Associated Press poll.

Both finishing 11-0 outside of Big Ten play, the Terrapins at fourth and Minnesota at 12th are ranked in front for the Hawkeyes and Spartans.

Iowa carries a 9-2 record into its conference opener while Michigan State enters the Big Ten with a 10-1 record which includes the only blemish on fifth-ranked Oregon’s record.

“The Big Ten has some very good teams, and we’re starting with one of the best,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

After playing 16 conference games the past two seasons, Big Ten women’s teams are playing 18 league games this year, and Iowa has a team positioned to build on the share of third place the Hawkeyes earned a year ago.

“Inside and out, we have a good combination of players, and we do a good job of feeding off of each other,” Gustafson said. “I’m always looking to our guards, and if they’re open, they’re going to get the ball.”

That works both ways, and Gustafson continues to deliver.

She scored 30 of her season-high 44 points in the second half of Iowa’s most recent game, a 91-82 victory at Drake that saw Gustafson hit seven of the eight shots she attempted while collecting 19 of her points in the fourth quarter of the road win.

After leading NCAA Division I with a scoring average of 25.7 points per game a year ago, she continues to lead the country this season with an average of 26.5 points per game.

Gustafson also leads the nation this season with a shooting touch of 74.7 percent from the field and the 10 double-doubles she has recorded while averaging a 12.5 rebounds per game, the second-highest average in the Big Ten.

“She’s scoring those points and shooting the way she is despite being double- and triple-teamed,” Bluder said. “When we get the ball in her hands and she decides to take a shot, there’s a good chance that it’s going in.”

One of just seven players in Big Ten history to score over 2,000 points and grab more than 1,000 rebounds, Gustafson remains a humble Hawkeye.

She repeatedly has shared credit for her accomplishments with her teammates.

“I have to credit my teammates,” Gustafson said. “I couldn’t do any of this without them. It’s a team game, and the only way we’re going to do what we hope to do this season is to play that way, as a team.”

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