March 21, 2004
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Ieva Kublina had 26 points and four blocks and Carrie Mason scored 19 Sunday, leading eighth-seeded Virginia Tech past Iowa 89-76 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament.
The Hokies (23-7), making their seventh NCAA appearance and fifth in seven years under coach Bonnie Henrickson, pulled in front by 19 early in the second half and won in the first round for the fifth straight time.
They will face either Penn State, the top seed in the East Regional, or Hampton in the second round on Tuesday night, also in Blacksburg.
Iowa (16-13), making its 15th NCAA appearance and third in four years under coach Lisa Bluder, drew within seven with about four minutes to play, but got no closer as the Hokies set a season high for points.
The loss was the first in eight first round games for Iowa and the fourth in five game to end this season. It came 16 days after Iowa’s last game, an 81-54 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Jennie Lillis led Iowa with 22 points and Kristi Faulkner had 20.
The Hokies scored their second-lowest total ever in losing 48-34 to Connecticut in the Big East tournament quarterfinals two weeks ago. But they used 6-for-6 3-point shooting to exceed that total in the first half.
Kublina and Mason each made three 3s in the half, which ended with the Hokies scoring 14 of the final 20 points to take a 40-27 lead.
Virginia Tech then opened the second half on 13-7 run to take a 53-34 lead, but then the Hawkeyes started chipping away at the deficit.
Lillis and Crystal Smith keyed an 8-0 run to make it 66-56 with 7:49 left, and Lindsay Richards and Faulkner had 3-pointers in another 8-0 burst that got the Hawkeyes to 74-67 with 4:05 left. But Kublina’s two free throws and baskets by Kerri Gardin and Dawn Chriss pushed the margin back to 12 and the Hokies held on.