March 14, 2004
IOWA CITY – – The University of Iowa women’s basketball team received an at-large berth into the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Hawkeyes (16-12) are the ninth seed and will play eighth-seeded Virginia Tech (22-7) in the first round on Sunday, March 21. Tip-off is slated for 11 a.m. (CST) and the game will be televised to a regional cable audience on ESPN2.
“We are really ecstatic to be back in the NCAA Tournament,” said Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder. I’m really happy for our three seniors to be in the tournament three out of the four years they’ve been here. The wait during the selection process was a little stressful, but I am really glad we were selected.”
The first round match-up between Iowa and Virginia Tech will the first meeting between the two squads and the Hawkeyes’ first trip to the state of Virginia. Former Iowa Assistant Coach Bonnie Hendrickson is the Hokies head coach, while former Hawkeye player Karen Clayton is an assistant coach with Virginia Tech.
“I had a gut feeling that we were going to get in,” Iowa senior Jennie Lillis said. “It was a little nerve-racking, but I am so happy that we made it in the tournament.”
Iowa, which will play in its 15th NCAA Tournament, will play in the East Region and will travel to Blacksburg, VA, to play the first two rounds. If the Hawkeyes advance to the second round, Iowa would play the winner of No. 1 Penn State (22-5) vs. No. 16 Hampton (17-12) on Tuesday, March 23.
Iowa is 16-14 in NCAA Tournament games, including a 7-0 record in first round games and a 5-9 mark in second round contests.
“It’s a tough draw playing the home team in Virginia Tech, said Bluder. “We know they are very physical and are very strong defensively, as well as being a good rebounding team. This is a very big challenge, but we are so excited to be in the tournament we are willing to accept any challenge.”
For first and second round ticket information, fans can call 1-800-IA-HAWKS beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, March 15.
The Hawkeyes are 11-15 all-time against Penn State, including an 0-2 mark this season, and have never faced Hampton. Additionally, this is the second consecutive time the Hawkeyes are a No. 9 seed (2002) and the first time they will play in the East Region.
Bluder has guided the Hawkeyes to post-season tournaments all four years (three NCAA and one WNIT) while coaching the Black and Gold. Iowa advanced to the second round in its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002. The Hawkeyes fell to eventual national champion, Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
For the second consecutive season, six Big Ten teams will compete in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa joins second-seeded Purdue (West), top-seeded Penn State (East), eighth-seeded Michigan State (West), sixth-seeded Ohio State (Mideast) and seventh-seeded Minnesota (Mideast) in the field of 64.