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Youngsters take huge steps

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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As highly touted recruits in the No. 17 ranked class in the country, Megan Gustafson and Tania Davis enter college with more expected of them than what may be of the average freshman.

But if their performance this season in the Game Time League is any indication, those expectations don’t bother them a whole lot.

“They’re just mature beyond their years,” league Commissioner Randy Larson said.

The two incoming Iowa freshmen have played their way into Game Time’s championship round, leading Kay DiLeo’s Beat the Bookstore/Westport to an 83-70 semifinal win over Bethany Doolittle’s Comfort Care/Pelling on Wednesday night in North Liberty.

But it wasn’t just that they won that was telling; it was the resilience they showed.

Facing former Iowa forward Doolittle and current Hawkeyes Ally Disterhoft and Hailey Schneden, they quickly fell behind, 17-6, in the first quarter.

“When we were down, we just came together; we were like, ‘We can still do this,’ ” Gustafson said. “We needed to work hard every possession, rebound, get after it, and forget about the mistakes that happened.”

By halftime, they led, 38-37. When they fell behind again in the third, 55-51, they rallied again to close out the quarter with a 1-point advantage. In the final quarter they took control, each finishing the contest with a double-double.

“I think we just saw the light,” Gustafson said. “We had the lead and had to open it up more and more to take away their hopes of winning.”

Davis finished with 15 points and 7 assists; her 5-4 frame pulled down 12 rebounds. Gustafson scored 22 with 11 rebounds, and in the end, the rookies beat the veterans.

Dartmouth sophomore Kate Letkewicz added 16 points as part of a strong supporting cast that has the team one victory way from the summer-league title.

And that’s all it is right now — summer league. Big Ten and Division-I basketball is undoubtedly an astronomical step up from Game Time.

But they’ve lost just once thus summer, a 103-100 defeat at the hands of Whitney Jennings and Marion Iron. The rest of the games haven’t even been close.

And they’ve beaten good, experienced players. Disterhoft is one of the better players in the Big Ten, as was Doolittle before she graduated in May.

Disterhoft scored 37 points Wednesday night, and still her team fell short. She can take solace in that when it counts, Gustafson and Davis will be wearing Black and Gold.

Their success has come from the way the two complement each other. Gustafson plays center as if her life depends on it — Davis the point like everything’s under control.

Ally Disterhoft has two years left, Whitney Jennings has three. Davis and Gustafson are just getting started, more than prepared to join the mix.

“I think it says we’re ready to play college, and we’re ready to take whatever is thrown at us,” Davis said. “We’ve had a couple workouts with our team already, and they’ve pretty much drilled in our heads that we have to get down and dirty this year.”


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