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Attention! No. 23 Iowa outlasts Leathernecks in OT behind freshman

Iowa has been playing well of late and have been led by their upperclassman, but tonight, it was all about a freshman.

Brian Ray, hawkeyesports.com

Iowa City, IA -- Western Illinois got a gust of black and yellow in their first road test of the season. With three Iowa natives on the team, the Leathernecks return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time since December, 2011 where they fell to the Hawkeyes 98-45.

But, no one could have expected Iowa to be led by a freshman coming off the bench with 23 points on the game.

As the action began, it was back and forth for the first two and a half minutes of the game with missed shots from both teams.

Maher was the first to get to the basket with a layup to put the Leathernecks on the board. Despite Head Coach Lisa Bluder rotating most of the Hawkeye's starters out early in the first quarter, Western Illinois took the first lead of the game 5-0. Iowa Junior guard, Ally Disterhoft, found her shot late in the quarter bringing the Hawkeyes their first lead of the game.

Iowa hit 13 unanswered points, taking the lead at the end of the first quarter, 21-10. The impressive offensive drive by freshman Megan Gustafson, who was hard at the net, recording 10 points in six minutes of play.

Despite a vigorous Hawkeye defense, Western Illinois drained 26 points in the second quarter. However, Gustafson and Ally Disterhoft just could not be stopped down low. Gustafson, a Port Wing, Wisconsin native, set a career-high in her third collegiate game, and led both teams with 14 total points in the first half. Along with Disterhoft's 15 points to take the Hawks to the locker room for half.

Both the Hawkeyes and the Leathernecks had 2-0 records heading into Thursday night's matchup in Iowa City. Western Illinois, led by senior guard, Michelle Maher, and Mellissa Farrow, averaged 93 points so far this season against Iowa's 72.5.

But Western Illinois ran away with the third quarter, outscoring Iowa 26-14 led by an outstanding offensive performance by Mellissa Farrow.

The fourth quarter was back and forth between the two as it came down to the final seconds of the matchup as Iowa closed the Leathernecks lead 77-75 with ten seconds left in the game. With Whitney Jennings hitting a three-point jumper with four second left, the score was tied at 78 to 78 with one second left in the game, and the matchup headed into overtime.

Bouncing back from their subpar second half drive, starting off the overtime with four points from Gustafson. WIU's Michelle Maher and Mallory Boyle attempted the rebuttal, but there was little hope for the Leathernecks as they fouled the Hawkeye's only to be surprised by their accuracy in the Free Throw category.

In the final minute of overtime, Iowa led 92-81. Missing their remaining shots, the Hawkeyes drained two Free Throws and an Alexa Katenek layup, making the final score. Iowa 96 Western Illinois 81.