It’s on to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team.
The sixth-seeded Hawkeyes team shot 62.1 percent, including an 8-of-12 effort from 3-point land, in the second half and had all five starters reach double figures in an 87-65 victory over 11th-seeded Marist on Sunday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa, 1-of-21 teams to advance to the NCAA Second Round in consecutive seasons, will now face No. 3 seed Louisville on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. (CT) for the right to move on to the Sweet 16.
“Our players executed very well, relaxed and had fun out there,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “It was one of those game where I thought offensively, we had so many weapons.”
Weapon one was senior Theairra Taylor, who paced the team with 22 points, making 8-of-11 field goals, including a career-best five 3-pointers. Junior Bethany Doolittle was a force to be reckoned with on the block, finishing with 21 points (9-of-15 FG) and eight rebounds.
Junior Melissa Dixon made three 3-pointers en route to 12 points, and don’t forget about junior Samantha Logic, who finished one rebound shy of a rare NCAA triple-double. She tallied 11 points, 10 assists and a team-high nine rebounds for her 24th career double-double. Freshman Ally Disterhoft was the fifth Hawkeye in double digits, adding 10 points in her first career NCAA Tournament game.
“They were relentless,” said Marist head coach Brian Giorgis. “It’s the nightmare that you’re afraid of when they have all five people that can score and four of them shoot the 3, and one of them is a stud inside. Early, we did a decent job, and they didn’t shoot the 3 well. In the second half, they showed us how they can shoot.”
After trailing 38-30 at the half, the Red Foxes closed the gap to 47-42 at the 15:21 mark of the second half. The Hawkeyes responded with a 12-3 spurt behind back-to-back 3-pointers from Taylor and Disterhoft and consecutive layups by Doolittle to stretch the Iowa lead to 59-45 with 11:09 to play.
Marist wouldn’t roll over, cutting the deficit to 61-51 on a Casey Dulin 3-pointer with 8:15 remaining, but the Hawkeyes used consecutive 3-pointers by Dixon and Disterhoft to make the score 67-51. Iowa used a 3-ball from Dixon with 3:22 left to stretch the advantage to 22 points (79-57), which ended up being the final margin of victory.
The Hawkeyes shot 57.1 percent (32-of-56) from the floor and 12-of-25 (48 percent) from 3-point range for the game. Iowa also dominated the action on the glass, 41-23, and had 19 assists on its 32 field goals.
“As a team, it was one of the best games this season,” said Doolittle. “Everyone did something to help us out. That gives us a lot of confidence going into the next one.”
Iowa limited Marist to 41.4 percent (24-of-58) shooting, which included an 8-of-30 effort from 3-point range. Four Red Fox players reached double digits and 10 scored with Emma O’Connor, Sydney Coffey and Madeline Blais leading the team with 12 points apiece.
Doolittle got Iowa off a strong start, scoring an old-fashioned three-point play on the game’s first possession and seven of the Hawkeyes first nine points over the first 4:30. Marist followed with 8-of-10 points to take a 14-11 lead with 11:19 left in the half.
Taylor broke a 19-all tie with a 3-pointer at the seven-minute mark to open an 11-4 Iowa run that gave the Hawkeyes a 30-23 lead. Doolittle’s jumper put Iowa up 26-23 before Logic and Taylor followed with consecutive layups to open a seven-point advantage and force a Red Fox timeout.
The Hawkeyes led 38-30 at the break after shooting 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe. Iowa limited Marist to 38.7 (12-of-31) shooting and out-rebounded the Red Foxes, 20-12, in the opening 20 minutes.
Iowa’s 27 victories mark the highest win total under Bluder and the program’s highest total since 1995-96. The Hawkeyes have won six of their last seven games heading into Tuesday’s Second Round game against Louisville.
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)