Disterhoft comes up large in win over Fighting Illini

BY MATT CABEL | MARCH 07, 2014 5:00 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

INDIANAPOLIS — Ally Disterhoft is a freshman in age and age alone.

In basketball years, she might as well be 100.

“Ally is a competitor,” Iowa’s head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I know she looks like a little scrawny kid, but she is not. She’s tough.”

Since Bluder inserted Disterhoft into the starting lineup after a blowout loss against Michigan State in January, the Iowa City native has been a force to be reckoned with. In her first game in the starting lineup, she notched a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in the game, and she earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team earlier this week when postseason awards were announced.

Click here to view an exclusive photo slideshow.

(opens in new window)

No one, not Bluder, not captain guards Sam Logic or Theairra Taylor, said they had discussions with Disterhoft about the differences of playing in the postseason or that there was pressure on her to have a strong outing.

“She understands that it’s win or go home,” Logic said on March 4. “I’m not too worried about her being too shy.”

Disterhoft wasn’t shy, and she proved that she didn’t want to go home in the tournament’s first day — especially at the hands of a team she and her teammates had throttled less than week prior — to the tune of a 14-point, 12-rebound performance that also included 2 assists, a block, and a steal.
Disterhoft said she realized she needed that kind of performance on her own.

“She gets it,” Logic said. “She knows when she’s supposed to show up; she’s not going to shy away from anyone. That’s what you want, you need that out of a freshman, and you don’t want her to be. She’s good enough to not shy away, she doesn’t need to shy away from anyone.”

Disterhoft’s biggest contributions came late in the first half. The Hawkeyes had let a 10-point lead become a 1-point deficit. Disterhoft hit the lane and sunk a pair of freebies from the line to give Iowa back the lead.

Soon after, backup point guard Alexa Kastanek, at the half court line, found Disterhoft streaking in the lane. Disterhoft took a few dribbles for power and laid the ball in with ease.

Then the freshman sprinted back on defense and blocked Illini guard Sarah Livingston, passed the ball to Kastanek, who found a streaking Doolittle for another and-one. The Iowa bench erupted in cheers.

“That gave us a ton of momentum,” Disterhoft said. “Obviously, you could tell we were pretty excited about that one.”

When Disterhoft went to the bench with a minute remaining in the game, the Hawkeye faithful who traveled to Indianapolis got on their feet and cheered for Iowa’s poster child, understanding the importance of her performance.

“It came with the flow of the game,” Disterhoft said. “We had kind of a rough start with the turnovers, but at the end of the half, we made a lot of momentum. We got some defensive boards, and we looked to run and push … those and-ones get us pumped up.”

It was widely expected that Disterhoft would have a successful freshman campaign. But she has shown poise and maturity in her game uncharacteristic of an 18-year-old woman.

“Mentally, she’s very strong,” Bluder said. “She’s won a state championship, she knows what it’s like to compete, she’s played in tough AAU tournaments. It doesn’t surprise me at all that she would understand that she needs to step up.”

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.