March 16, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder let out a shout of delight Monday night watching the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Selection Show and her team’s name had yet to be revealed.
You didn’t have to explain anything to the head coach of the University of Iowa once she saw “Iowa City, Iowa” listed as a host site for the first two rounds.
The third-seeded Hawkeyes (24-7 overall) take on 14th-seeded American (24-8) on Friday, March 20, beginning at 1:30 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That game follows sixth-seeded Washington (23-9) against 11th-seeded Miami, Florida (19-12), which begins at 11 a.m.
Iowa is 16-0 at home this season.
“That’s what is so wonderful,” Bluder said. “These seniors deserve the opportunity to play in front of our great Hawkeye fans again and to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena again. It feels good to see it come to fruition.”
This is the highest the Hawkeyes have been seeded in the postseason under Bluder, they are playing at home, and their contest does not conflict with the start time of the UI men’s NCAA Tournament game scheduled for 6:20 p.m. (CT) on Friday in Seattle.
“That’s what is so wonderful. These seniors deserve the opportunity to play in front of our great Hawkeye fans again and to play in Carver-Hawkeye Arena again. It feels good to see it come to fruition.”
UI basketball coach
“Come on, I’m a coach, we’re never completely happy are we? We always have something we can complain about,” Bluder said with a smile. “No, we’re very happy playing at home with a great seed. This is good for us, so now we have to go to work and make it happen.”
Iowa wrapped up the regular season with two wins at home, then eliminated Nebraska in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal. The last outing for the Hawkeyes was a six-point overtime loss to Ohio State in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal.
“Actually losing in the Big Ten Tournament almost made us hungrier,” Bluder said. “It felt awful bowing out of the Big Ten Tournament. Our team doesn’t want that to happen again and our team wants to play together as long as we can. This is a special group of women and I’m happy for our seniors to get this opportunity.”
Moments after the NCAA pairings were announced, a graphic appeared on ESPN calling 3-point shooting Iowa’s “X-Factor” to advancing in the tournament. For the season, the Hawkeyes average nearly 21 shots per game from distance, with senior Melissa Dixon doing the bulk of the damage by making 116-of-257.
“That’s a big part of our program,” Dixon said. “Everyone can shoot the 3 for the most part and it helps us and gives a lot of energy in games.”
This marks Iowa’s 24th trip to the NCAA Tournament and eighth season in a row. Bluder has led the Hawkeyes to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in 15 years at Iowa. Iowa is the only Big Ten team — and one of 10 teams in the country — to appear in the last eight NCAA Tournaments (Baylor, DePaul, Tennessee, Stanford, Oklahoma, Duke, Texas A&M, Iowa State, and Connecticut).
The Hawkeyes are 11-7 in NCAA Tournament games played in Iowa City, including a combined 2-2 mark in 2013 and 2014.
“We’re looking forward to playing back in Carver,” said UI All-American Samantha Logic. “We like playing at home as our record shows. That’s why Senior Day was a little easier, because we were confident we were going to be able to play at home again. We’re glad we’re going to get that opportunity to play in front of our fans.”
The No. 3 seed is Iowa’s highest since earning a No. 2 seed in 1996. It marks the fifth time in program history that Iowa has earned a No. 3 seed (1987, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2015). The Hawkeyes are 4-4 all-time as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Iowa City site is part of the Oklahoma City region that includes top-seeded Notre Dame and No. 2 seed Baylor.
“It never gets old; it’s still fun,” Bluder said. “This is special for us because it is the highest seed we have ever received as a coaching staff. We’re excited about that but we know the seed doesn’t mean a thing once the ball goes up Friday.”
American, making its first NCAA appearance, has won 11 straight games and hasn’t lost in the months of February and March. The Eagles are led by senior Jen Dumiak, who averages 16.9 points per game.
|IOWA NCAA RESULTS IN IOWA CITY (11-7)|
|March 25, 2014||Louisville||L, 83-53|
|March 23, 2014||Marist||W, 87-65|
|March 26, 2013||Notre Dame||L, 74-57|
|March 24, 2013||Miami||W, 69-53|
|March 22, 2009||Georgia Tech||L, 76-62|
|March 15, 1998||Kansas||L, 62-58|
|March 13, 1998||Massachusetts||W, 77-59|
|March 16, 1996||DePaul||W, 72-71|
|March 14, 1996||Butler||W, 72-67|
|March 20, 1994||Alabama||L, 84-78|
|March 16, 1994||Mount St. Mary’s||W, 70-47|
|March 27, 1993||Tennessee||W, 72-56|
|March 25, 1993||Auburn||W, 63-50|
|March 22, 1992||Missouri State||L, 61-60 (OT)|
|March 17, 1990||Vanderbilt||L, 61-56|
|March 18, 1989||Tennessee Tech||W, 77-75|
|March 18, 1988||Stephen F. Austin||W, 83-65|
|March 15, 1987||New Orleans||W, 68-46|