Too much Schimmel

BY JACOB SHEYKO | MARCH 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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Shoni Schimmel is the best player the Iowa women’s basketball team has faced this season. There’s no question about it.

That’s saying something for a team that faced the likes of Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper, and Minnesota’s Rachel Banham over the course of the past five months.

As a result, the Hawkeyes were stopped short of the Sweet 16 for the seventh-consecutive year, losing to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 83-53.

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“With a player like Schimmel, you’re not going stop her, you’re not going to hold her to zero points,” junior Sam Logic said. “You just have to try to contain; you’re not going to control a player like that … she’s just a flat-out scorer.”

The first five minutes between Iowa and Louisville were the definition of back-and-forth basketball. And it appeared as if an instant classic might be in the works. But when Schimmel began to take charge offensively, Iowa had no answer.

Her first points came about five minutes into the contest. Driving the lane, Schimmel created space with her body and hit a short jumper in the lane to put Louisville up by 2.

The Cardinals led for the remainder of the game. And Schimmel was just getting started.

A pull-up 8-footer, a contested 12-foot jumper, a trip to the charity for two freebies, and then a fake 3 and mid-range jumper, Schimmel began to make shots even with Iowa players hugging her jersey.

After being held scoreless for five minutes, Schimmel had 10 points with 8:46 remaining in the first half.

“There were a couple of shots that were contested and what not, but at the same time were focused on shooting those shots,” Schimmel said. “We do them every day in practice, and so for us to have that flow going into it, it helped us out there on the court.”

The second half was much of the same. Only this time, Schimmel didn’t wait five minutes.

One drive and finish, a spot-up 3, and then another — this one a step-back, and Schimmel had 8 points before the ref blew the whistle for the first media timeout.

“All the momentum was in our favor,” she said. “So for us to continue that, and keep going with it, we did a great job of it … we just took advantage of what we could do.”

Getting to the point — Iowa had no answer. It was Schimmel’s night, and when it was all said and done, she finished with 26 points, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds.

“She made some big shots today, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. “She made some tough shots.”

For Iowa, it was about as dull of an end to such a bright season as one could imagine. The Hawkeyes never stood a chance against a team that many believed was under-seeded even as a 3-seed.

“We’re just excited to be here,” Schimmel said. “For us to go each game, take it one at a time, that’s what works for us.”

For now, Bluder’s hope of taking an Iowa team to the Sweet 16 will have to wait for another season. She’s probably more than glad that she’ll never have to face Schimmel again.

“She’d played exactly how we expect,” Walz said. “In my opinion, the kid is an All-American. She’s performed that well all season long, and I’d be shocked if she’s not.”

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