Iowa, Naismith nominee Megan Gustafson avoid unprecedented upset bid by 15 seed Mercer

Cassandra NegleyYahoo Sports Contributor
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson was named among the four best women's college basketball players in 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson was named among the four best women's college basketball players in 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Iowa Hawkeyes nearly went down in the history books in the worst way.

The No. 2 seed survived an upset bid by No. 15 Mercer, moving on to the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament with a 66-61 win. A two seed has never defeated a 15 in the history of the 64-team women’s tournament.

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It was Mercer’s second appearance in the tournament and the Bears kept it close with Iowa, one of the best teams in the nation. The Hawkeyes made nearly triple the turnovers as their counterparts and won it in the final minutes.

The Bears heated up behind the arc at the hands of Keke Calloway in the early parts of the fourth quarter, but missed shots in the final minutes and couldn’t secure rebounds. A failed rebound with 19 seconds left and a bad bounce out of bounds gave Iowa what looked to be the final possession.

An ensuing jump ball given to the Hawkeyes and free throws by Kathleen Doyle sealed the win.

The result gives Megan Gustafson her first NCAA tournament victory. She had a double-double of 30 points and 16 rebounds hours after being named one of the four finalists for the 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy.

She is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year as well as ESPN’s choice for best player in the game. The 6-foot-3 center-forward again led the nation in scoring, averaging a double-double of 28.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.

Iowa will take on the winner of No. 7 seed Missouri and No. 10 seed Drake in Iowa on Sunday.

While the men’s tournament has started quietly, the women’s tournament is starting with a bang. In the minutes after Iowa escaped, 12 seed Rice and 5 seed Marquette went into overtime.

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