The journey is complete. Ally Disterhoft has gone from a 9-year-old poster child to the greatest scorer in University of Iowa women’s basketball history.
The hometown senior passed Cindy Haguejorde as the Hawkeyes’ career scoring leader Thursday in Iowa’s 95-74 victory over Missouri State in a first-round Women’s NIT game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes, now 18-13, advance to host a second-round game against defending WNIT champion South Dakota on Saturday on Mediacom Court. Tipoff is 3 p.m. (CT).
“The coaches have believed in me since I was a freshman,” Disterhoft said after scoring 21 points to push her career mark to 2,061. “They have set me up to succeed on the floor as well as off the floor. My teammates have done the same.”
Haugejorde scored 2,059 points from 1976-80.
“I’m really proud of her,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “To come here and accomplish something like that is amazing. I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Disterhoft appeared on the Iowa women’s basketball team poster for the 2004-05 season. The motto that season was “Dream Big.” The dreamer was a 9-year-old who has spent the last four seasons scoring more points than anyone who has worn a Hawkeye uniform.
A Cinderella story in sneakers, if you will.
“It is a really cool story,” Disterhoft said. “I’m so appreciative and grateful of all the opportunities I’ve been given along the way. Obviously a lot hard work has gone into it, but a lot of kids work hard and they don’t get the opportunities I’ve been given along the way.”
Bluder admitted to getting a little emotional when Disterhoft broke the record “just because I was so happy for Ally to get this record. But I think it shows I can identify talent at 8 years old.”
Disterhoft tried not to let the potential record be her focus heading into the game, but that was easier said than done.
“Hailey Schneden came up to me before the game, when we were shooting around, and said, ‘Ally, just don’t put too much pressure on yourself,'” Disterhoft said. “I think I needed to hear that from her.”
Disterhoft had already scored 19 points, putting her in a tie with Haguejorde, when she huddled with Bluder during a stoppage of play midway through the fourth quarter.
“I said, ‘Do you want to get it tonight or do you want to get it Saturday?'” Bluder said. “She said tonight. I said, ‘OK, we’re going to leave her in.'”
Two possessions later, Disterhoft got the ball on the right wing, made a spin dribble and kissed the ball high off the glass and into the basket with 4:06 remaining in the game. Bluder took her out with 3:57 left, and greeted Disterhoft with a hug.
“Relief,” Disterhoft said. “That was probably the biggest emotion at that point.”
Disterhoft wasn’t the only one to establish a record Thursday. Sophomore center Megan Gustafson had her 16th double-double, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She set a school record for rebounds in a season with 307. Amy Herrig had set the previous mark of 306 during the 1998-99 season.
“I love rebounding, and that’s something I’m meant to do here” Gustafson said. “I kind of think when I get a rebound it’s not my rebound, it’s Iowa’s rebound.”
While individual accomplishments stole the headlines, Bluder was pleased with the team effort displayed Thursday.
“I know there were some individual records set, but what a great team victory,” Bluder said after her 697th career win. “I loved our bench play tonight, I liked our paint play.”
Iowa scored 50 points in the paint, to go with 25 bench points. The Hawkeyes also set a WNIT record by shooting 62.3 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes had 23 assists on 38 made baskets.
“We had a hard time guarding them from a lot of different areas,” Missouri State head coach Kellie Harper said.
Iowa had five players score in double figures. Kathleen Doyle added 18 points, Makenzie Meyer 14, and Hannah Stewart 10.
But this was Disterhoft’s night.
“It has always been in the back of my mind that this was possible,” Disterhoft said. “It has been weighing on me subconsciously. Hopefully now I can just go out there and compete hard and try to make good things happen for the team.”