Iowa storms over Hurricanes

BY KYLE MANN | MARCH 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Lisa Bluder admitted before Sunday’s game that her third-seed Hawkeyes, facing 11-seed Miami, had the best opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16 of any team she’s had as a Hawkeye coach.

With Bluder’s highest-seeded team ever — playing in Carver-Hawkeye, in which it went 17-0 coming into the contest — everything on paper was in favor of the Hawkeyes. Nonetheless, they knew they were hosting a team good enough to defeat Notre Dame.

“Miami is a talented team; they are athletic, they are quick, they are good outside shooters, they are well-coached,” Bluder said before her team’s 88-70 win over the Hurricanes on Sunday. “We know it’s going to be a battle, and this time of year, a lot of times, it’s who gets hot.”

Bluder is such a smart person. The first half was a battle in the sense that the two teams left the floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena for halftime, leaving behind only a desolate wasteland in which offense was once played.

But then someone got hot. Everyone got hot. Boy, did they get hot.

Iowa seemed somewhat off its game from the very beginning, with the offensive system being noticeably less perimeter-centric. The team attempted only four 3s in the first half, opting instead for a bevy of midrange jumpers and contested drives to the hoop.

As a result of the low-efficiency shot selection, Iowa shot a woeful 36 percent from the floor in the half.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, the Hurricanes matched their can’t-shoot and raising them a dribble or defend.

The Hurricanes actually out-shot Iowa in the half, finishing at 40 percent, but otherwise were in quite a generous mood. They had 8 turnovers in the half leading to 11 Iowa points and nine team fouls allowing the Hawkeyes to go 12-of-12 from the line.

As a result, despite being so out of character offensively, when the dust settled, Iowa somehow carried a 38-31 lead into the break.

Miami had to know it wouldn’t last forever, however. The Hurricanes may have disrupted the Hawkeyes with some chippy physicality in the first half, but Bluder’s team rebounded in the second and left the Black and Gold faithful with a vintage image of the best home-performing squad they’ve ever witnessed.

“They did a really good job of knowing where I was at all times,” guard Melissa Dixon said. “But the beauty of our team is there are so many different threats that if they’re going to take away my shooting, I have four other teammates who are going to have wide-open looks. You can’t take away everything on our team.”

The Hawkeyes exploded in the second half, showing why they are truly one of the elite offenses in the nation.

The team shot 75 percent from the floor in the second half and was 3-of-5 from behind the arc, while Miami continued to struggle. Iowa dominated the entire half en route to the 88-70 victory.

Dixon and Sam Logic finished with 12 points apiece, and Logic also finished with 7 assists and 5 rebounds. Ally Disterhoft contributed 15 points. The star of the day, however, was Bethany Doolittle, who finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Particularly after struggling in the first half, this game is a prime example of why Iowa’s coaching, versatility, and veteran talent make it a threat to advance past the Sweet 16.

“[Doolittle] played one of her best games I’ve seen in a long time, if ever,” Logic said. “With play like that, and you combine it with four other people on the floor that can spread you out and have so many offensive weapons, it’s going to be tough.”

Follow @KyleFMann on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.

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