March 24, 2014
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — For a 27-win Marist women’s basketball team, Sunday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against the University of Iowa turned into Nightmare in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Brian Giorgis, head coach of the Red Foxes, wouldn’t expect a different result if the game was played 34 million miles away.
“They were just relentless,” Giorgis said of the Hawkeyes. “It’s the nightmare that you are afraid of when they have all five people that can score, four of them shoot the 3, and one of them is a stud inside. What do you take away?
“Hats off to Iowa. If we played on Mars, I think Iowa would have beaten us the way they shot the ball. No complaints, we lost to a better team.”
Hawkeye center Bethany Doolittle began both halves with field goals down low. It was part of the team’s game plan because of Doolittle’s 3-plus-inch height advantage over any Marist defender. Or was Iowa’s inside presence — that produced the first 13 points for the Hawkeyes — a decoy? It looked that way over the final 20 minutes when Iowa drained 8-of-12 field goals from beyond the 3-point line.
“They were just relentless. It’s the nightmare that you are afraid of when they have all five people that can score, four of them shoot the 3, and one of them is a stud inside. What do you take away? Hats off to Iowa. If we played on Mars, I think Iowa would have beaten us the way they shot the ball. No complaints, we lost to a better team.”
Marist basketball coach
“From the get go we had a little bit of a height advantage down low,” Doolittle said. “We were trying to take advantage of that. That helped us later on to get the people on the perimeter open for their shots.”
Final numbers were staggering in favor of the Hawkeyes (27-8 overall), who won a first-round NCAA game for the second season in a row. They shot 57.1 percent from the field for the game (62.1 percent in the second half) and owned an 18-rebound advantage with 32 defensive boards.
Then there was the characteristic scoring balance. Lone senior Theairra Taylor, who made a career-high five 3-pointers, finished with a game-high 22 points. Doolittle added 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Melissa Dixon contributed 12 points and three 3-pointers, Samantha Logic scored 11 points with 10 assists, and nine rebounds, and Ally Disterhoft totaled 10 points.
“Just a great feeling out on the floor tonight,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Our players executed very well. I thought they relaxed and had fun out there.”
After the Hawkeyes scored their first 13 points inside or at the free throw line, they added the next nine from outside, compliments of 3-point field goals from Logic, Claire Till, and Taylor.
Till, who made 2-of-3 3-point field goals with four rebounds in 19 minutes against Nebraska in the final of the Big Ten Conference Tournament, followed that by logging 16 minutes against Marist, making her only 3-point attempt, and pulling down two key offensive rebounds.
“Claire is playing the best basketball of her career right now,” Bluder said. “She has found a role as far as we need rebounds, go get the rebound. She had two beautiful offensive rebounds, one led to a Theairra 3 for us. She battles in there.”
Last season in the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes also opened with victory on Mediacom Court (69-53 against Miami, Fla.). They were eliminated two days later by No. 2 Notre Dame, 74-57. To avoid a similar fate this year, Iowa must defeat No. 4 Louisville (31-4) on Tuesday. Last season the Cardinals played in the NCAA Championship game, losing to Connecticut. Three of Louisville’s four losses this season have been to UConn.
“When we got on the floor, we wanted to compete, win, get to the Sweet 16,” Taylor said. “We want to cut down those nets. That’s my motivation, that’s all of our motivation. We just went out and showed what we can do.”
The Iowa-Louisville game is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. (CT) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is one of 21 teams to advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons.