Top-seeded Notre Dame bounces Iowa women from NCAA basketball tournament
The Iowa women were bounced from the NCAA Tournament Tuesday evening after coming up short against Notre Dame. Iowa was no match for the Norfolk Regional’s top-seed, losing 74-57. The Fighting Irish, who led from start to finish, dominated on both ends of the court.
“We struggled to score tonight,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “The first half, we scored OK, and the second half, we just couldn’t buy a bucket … you have to expect a near-perfect night to beat a team like Notre Dame, and we just didn’t have it tonight.”
Iowa showed tenacity and toughness throughout the first half, hanging with the Irish, despite giving up 46 points and allowing junior guard Kayla McBride to go off for 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting — including an astounding 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. McBride finished with a career-high 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting.
The Hawkeyes played some offense of their own in the first half, tallying 34 points while shooting a modest 47 percentage from the field. Bethany Doolittle led the way with 10 points in the first frame.
Iowa point guard Sam Logic — an integral part of the Hawks’ round-one victory three days ago — was forced to play cautiously after picking up two personal fouls by the first media time-out. Logic finished the game with just 9 points on 3-of-9 from the field, a serious downgrade from Sunday’s double-double performance.
“That trap gave me a lot of trouble,” Logic said about Notre Dame’s defense. “I didn’t give us a chance in almost of those situations, and I didn’t handle it the right way. They had pretty good ball pressure, and I let it disrupt me too much. That was pretty much what it was.”
The Hawkeye faithful roared into a standing ovation after each Hawkeye basket, trying desperately to hamper the Notre Dame attack, but McBride seemed to always have an answer, knocking down a shot to silence the 4,942 fans who packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena each time Iowa began to close the gap.
And as the second half began, so did Skylar Diggins — Logic’s opposite for the Fighting Irish.
The Hawkeyes held Diggins to 8 first-half points, but she was able to dish out 5 assists — 4 of which she split between McBride and freshman star Jewell Lloyd on the outside for treys.
Diggins played a role in almost every Irish possession, guiding Notre Dame to a 19-point lead with 16:46 remaining in the game. She finished with 16 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes scored only 5 points in the first eight minutes of the second half, allowing Notre Dame to push the lead to 21.
Notre Dame never let the lead get under 15 the rest of the way. They coasted to the 17-point victory. The combination of 21 offensive rebounds and the Hawkeyes shooting 0-of-11 from 3-point arc made it pretty simple for Notre Dame to lead throughout.
“I think they are just a really good team,” Doolittle said. “Obviously, we were looking to stop their runs and go on runs of our own, but some of the time, we didn’t do that as well as we could have. And they capitalized on that.”
Iowa finished the season with a 21-12 record and will say goodbye to three seniors: center Morgan Johnson, guard Jaime Printy, and guard Trisha Nesbitt.
“Tough to say goodbye to three really good seniors, just a tremendous group of women and great leaders,” Bluder said. “That’s the probably hardest thing about tonight; it’s not really about losing, it’s just that the season is over and, you don’t ever get to coach them again, so that’s kind of tough.”
Notre Dame moves on to Norfolk, Va., where it will play 12th-seeded Kansas on March 31.
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