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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — To score 2,000 points in a Division I college basketball career takes opportunity, quality teammates (especially point guards), and health.
University of Iowa senior Ally Disterhoft had all that and sprinkled in plenty of talent, too. She enters her final regular-season game Sunday against Wisconsin with 2,003 points. Disterhoft joined the two-Hawkeye 2,000-Point Club in overtime at Indiana on Feb. 22.
“It is a special feeling knowing your name is up there with a select few people,” Disterhoft said. “I have had a ton of help along the way, being a senior, you realize that. I have had incredible point guards; I was able to play with Sam Logic for two years — she made my life easy scoring-wise. I have had other great point guards and teammates since then.”
Disterhoft is second in Iowa history in career points behind Cindy Haugejorde, who totaled 2,059 from 1976-80. Disterhoft will have a minimum of three games remaining to set the all-time standard that is 57 points away.
“There has been pressure that has been in the back of my mind, knowing it was in reach,” Disterhoft said. “My coaches have done a great job deflecting that. It’s not something we talk about. It is out there and has been written about, but it has never been a focus.”
What makes her story more alluring is that Disterhoft is a local hero, earning Iowa Miss Basketball in 2013 while starring at Iowa City West High School. Her mother, Missy, was teammates with Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen and assistant coach Jenni Fitzgerald at Drake. As a 9-year-old, Disterhoft was photographed for Iowa’s 2004-05 poster.
“I have grown up in Carver-Hawkeye Arena pretty much my whole life,” Disterhoft said. “I grew up going to games and I have been around the program a long time. The program means so much to me.”
Disterhoft idolized many Hawkeyes, including Crystal Smith (2002-06), Kamille Wahlin (2008-12) — who wore the No. 2 jersey four years before her — and Jaime Printy (2010-13), another homegrown product from Linn-Mar High School.
“I really loved Jaime Printy, I think I had a slight obsession with her in high school,” Disterhoft said. “There were a lot of people that I grew up watching and admiring.”
As a freshman, Disterhoft scored 474 points, second to Printy’s 501 for a first-year Iowa player. After 19 games as a reserve, she earned her first start Jan. 19, 2014, at Ohio State, posting a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds during an 81-74 victory. Disterhoft is fourth in scoring as a sophomore with 503 points and her 565 points in 2015-16 are the most by a Hawkeye junior.
“Ally came at a great time. We had a need at her position, so she moved into that starting role,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “The timing of that doesn’t always happen. She has put in the work with her academics and athletics. She has surpassed everybody’s expectations except for maybe her own because she is a very driven young lady.”
Disterhoft began her final season 11th on the all-time scoring list with 1,542 points. In the first 28 games she surpassed a Who’s Who of Hawkeye women’s basketball: Logic, Morgan Johnson, Tangela Smith, Toni Foster, Franthea Price, Jennie Lillis, Michelle Edwards, Printy, and Lindsey Meder.
“You see great potential in every player you recruit and a great career ahead of them,” Bluder said. “It’s up to them when they get here if they make use of that. Ally’s is kind of a fairy tale story: a local product comes here and accomplishes all she has accomplished — an amazing story both academically and athletically.”
“I have grown up in Carver-Hawkeye Arena pretty much my whole life. I grew up going to games and I have been around the program a long time. The program means so much to me.” — Ally Disterhoft
Disterhoft’s academic prowess is a headline of its own. Last season she was named second-team All-Big Ten on the court for a second time, an outstanding feat that was surpassed only by her proficiency in the classroom. Her lofty grade-point average and scholarly accomplishments are why Disterhoft was named CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, first-team CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-American, and Academic All-Big Ten for a second time. Next year, Disterhoft, an accounting and finance major, will be employed by Barclays Investment Bank in New York City. That opportunity comes a year after she spent the summer of 2016 working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago.
“She approaches basketball the same way she does her academics,” Bluder said. “She is an incredibly driven young woman, she is a perfectionist almost to a fault some times, and is a competitor. She never lets down. It’s the same drive in the classroom that has made her so successful that she brings on the court.”
Disterhoft has also been durable. She has played in 131 consecutive games, a streak that began with Iowa’s 70-56 victory over UC Riverside on Nov. 8, 2013. Disterhoft has started 112 straight games. She suffered an injury to her wrist near the end of the 2014-15 season, but had an entire offseason to rehabilitate.
“I tried to be smart when it came to staying on top of treatment,” Disterhoft said. “I would seek our trainer (Jennie Sertterh) and utilize her because she has great things to offer. I rested when I could and that’s pretty much it.”
Disterhoft has personal bests of 29 points in a game (Nov. 11, 2016 vs. Oral Roberts), 13 rebounds (Jan. 26, 2015 vs. Nebraska), and eight assists (Dec. 28, 2014 vs. Penn State). All those milestones were set in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and all helped lead the Hawkeyes to victory.
Disterhoft has one regular-season game left on her home court: a Senior Day matchup against the Badgers that begins at 2 p.m. (CT). Whatever magic she brings as her fairy tale career winds down will be worth the price of admission.
“I don’t think I get that outwardly emotional too often,” Disterhoft said. “But it will be an emotional day. I will try to put those emotions aside so I can focus on the game and giving it my all.”