March 1, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Take a well-deserved bow, #corefour.
On Senior Day honoring “core four” Hawkeyes Melissa Dixon, Bethany Doolittle, Samantha Logic, and Kathryn Reynolds, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team pulled out a 92-76 victory over Minnesota on Sunday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
A season-high 9,726 saw the No. 16 Hawkeyes improve to 23-6 overall, 14-4 in the Big Ten Conference. They posted a program-best 16-0 regular-season record at home.
Iowa saved its most emotional play of the day until the end and it was compliments of Reynolds, a team captain.
There was a minute remaining and UI head coach Lisa Bluder wanted time out for a substitution. Neither the referees nor Reynolds paid attention to the request, so play continued. Moments later, Reynolds drained a 3-point field goal off an assist from Logic and Iowa had its biggest lead, 92-72.
“That’s one time I’m glad the officials didn’t hear me,” Bluder said with a laugh.
That play defines the closeness of the Hawkeye team and more specifically, the senior class. By the time Reynolds closed the scoring against the Golden Gophers, her more heralded teammates had amassed a combined 4,163 career points. It was the 54th point of Reynolds’ career and 15th of the season.
“I was hearing (coach) behind me yelling `time out’ and I almost wasn’t looking when Sam passed it to me,” Reynolds said. “To see everyone’s reaction after getting the chance to make that was special and something I don’t think I will ever forget.”
Reynolds was a highly recruited player out of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati. Injuries set her back even more than being an understudy to Logic, one of the most accomplished players in the nation. Still, she remained a model teammate and an outstanding leader.
“I don’t think you could write a better story line than that,” Bluder said. “Kathryn has brought so much to our team with leadership. What she says in the locker room is so meaningful. I never want to take for granted what Kathryn has done for our team, even though her name isn’t in the record books like the other three.”
Speaking of the “other three,” they were remarkable once again. Dixon went 8-of-11 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 27 points. Logic made 10-of-18 field goals and scored 24 points with 13 assists and six rebounds. Doolittle was a blocked shot from a triple double with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and nine points.
Bluder said the senior class wanted to be the best it could be. A record of 90-40 overall, 44-22 in Big Ten is a cut-and-dried testament to their greatness.
Still, a 22-win Minnesota team stood in the way of Iowa’s storybook ending to the regular season. The Gophers won the first meeting by 13 points in Minneapolis 12 days earlier.
It was an impressive first five minutes for the Hawkeyes, who made 6-of-11 field goals (3-of-3 from distance) to take a 15-2 lead. Minnesota fought back to go ahead 28-25 with 6:27 left, thanks to a layup by Shae Kelley, who scored 14 first-half points. Iowa closed the final 70 seconds on a 4-0 run to head into the locker room with a 42-37 edge.
Dixon, who was 5-of-17 from 3-point range at Minnesota on Feb. 17, made 4-of-5 from behind the arc in the first half for 12 points. Logic had 12 points and six assists.
The second half belonged to the Hawkeyes. Minnesota pulled within 46-44 after two free throws by Kelley (who finished with a game-high 29 points) with 17:37 to go. But Iowa would not surrender the lead.
The Hawkeyes shot 51.5 percent from the field in the second half (17-of-33) and 46.5 percent for the game. They made 13-of-23 from 3-point range and 13-of-14 from the line. Iowa scored 27 points off 20 turnovers.
“It was a great win over a very good Minnesota team,” Bluder said.
It was the final time Doolittle, a native of Oakdale, Minnesota, will battle her home state Gophers. In the last meeting, Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B., her counterpart in the post, scored 39 points with 29 rebounds.
“It’s nice to get that win after what we did at their place,” Doolittle said. “It was special overall, and coming out with a win makes it all that much sweeter. To be able to say we beat Minnesota on our home court Senior Night is special.”
Zahui B. finished with 22 points, 21 rebounds, and seven blocked shots.
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, March 6, at the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Last season Iowa played four games in four days with wins against Illinois, Purdue, and Ohio State before falling in the championship to Nebraska.