INDIANAPOLIS — Megan Gustafson scored 26 points in the first half and finished with 45 on Sunday to lead No. 10 Iowa past No. 8 Maryland 90-76 for its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2001.
It's the longest gap between conference crowns since the tourney became an annual event in 1995. The Hawkeyes (26-6) also claimed the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a victory over the Big Ten's regular-season champion.
Gustafson's point total was the second-most in tourney history, trailing only her 48-point performance in a quarterfinal loss to Minnesota last year.
Kaila Charles scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Terrapins (28-4), who lost for just the second time in 14 games – both to Iowa and this time largely because of Gustafson's incredible start.
The two-time conference player of the year, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, went 10 of 14 from the field and drew seven fouls in the first half. As a result, Iowa never trailed after taking a 17-7 lead.
The Hawkeyes led 51-43 at the half and only had to fend off one serious charge in the second half, when they missed seven straight shots to open the third quarter.
Maryland took advantage to tie the score at 53.
But Gustafson broke the tie, and then scored eight points during a 12-4 quarter-closing run that gave Iowa a 69-60 lead.
Tania Davis made a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and Maryland never got within single digits again.