March 20, 2004
GAME: No. 9 Iowa (16-12) vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech (22-7).
REGIONAL: East, First round.
TIME: Sunday, 12 p.m. EST.
SITE: At Cassell Coliseum; Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech hopes to start the NCAA tournament the way it began the regular season.
The Hokies dominated nonconference opponents and will look to resume that when they host Iowa in the first round.
The Hokies started their season with a 12-0 mark, but once they entered Big East play, the team went 10-7, including 1-1 in the Big East tournament.
Though initially disappointed with its seeding, Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson says playing the first round at home is what’s more important.
“We’ll take the site versus the seed anytime,” Henrickson said. “Having our fans there will provide us the atmosphere and energy to help us win.”
The Hokies played well, albeit in a losing cause, in the league tourney quarterfinals against No. 4 Connecticut, holding the Huskies to a season-low 48 points. However, Virginia Tech scored just 34.
Iowa, making its 15th NCAA tournament appearance, dropped three of its last four games to end the season.
Hawkeye coach Lisa Bluder is well aware of the obstacles facing her team, but she believes they’re talented enough to overcome them.
“We know we’ve got a tough task at hand,” Bluder said. “We’ve played well on the road. I think our team is kind of excited to put the black jerseys on.”
The Hawkeyes posted an 8-5 road record this season, its best showing away from its home floor since 1993.
Also, Iowa’s talented offense, which averages 73.3 points per game, poses a significant challenge for the Hokies. Three of Iowa’s starters, Jamie Carvey, Kristi Faulkner and Jennie Lillis, are ranked in the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring.
“Offensively their numbers are very good,” said Virginia Tech head coach Bonnie Henrickson. “They average almost 74 points a game and defensively we’ve got to reduce those numbers and then not only play good defense but try and create some offense from our defense.”
PROBABLE STARTERS: Iowa – F Lillis (15.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), F Johanna Solverson (5.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg), C Cavey (16.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Lindsay Richards (5.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg), G Faulkner (16.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Virginia Tech – F Ieva Kublina (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg), F Kerri Gardin (7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), C Erin Gibson (9.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg), G Dawn Chriss (10.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg), G Carrie Mason (11.1 ppg, 2.6 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Iowa – At-large berth. Virginia Tech – At-large berth.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Iowa – 16-14, 14 years. Virginia Tech – 6-6, 6 years.