Seniors shine again on Senior Day 2.0

BY KYLE MANN | MARCH 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball program celebrated its Senior Day on March 1, and it couldn’t have gone any better. Seniors Sam Logic, Melissa Dixon, and Bethany Doolittle each had beautiful performances in the 92-76 win over Minnesota, which had beaten them only a week and a half earlier, and Logic hit senior reserve Kathryn Reynolds for a 3 with less than a minute to go.

It was the perfect storybook ending to the seniors’ last game in Carver-Hawkeye. The only problem: They all knew it wasn’t. The Hawkeyes, confident they would be rewarded as a host for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, anticipated that they would be back in front of their home crowd. When they received a 3-seed, a major season goal was achieved but not without a possible downside. They would now be challenged again to send their seniors out on a high note.

Entering the tournament having gone 16-0 in Iowa City, the team rode a boisterous crowd on March 20 to escape a feisty American team, which led for much of the first half, and exited Carver-Hawkeye, 17-0. The second-round game with Miami was never as concerning for the Hawkeyes, but their second-half performance was indeed a fitting sendoff for the seniors.

The team shot 75 percent from the floor and 60 percent from beyond the arc in one of its most impressive stretches of basketball of the entire season, led primarily by its seniors. Dixon had 12 points on 2-of-3 from behind the arc, Logic also had 12 points with 7 assists and 7 rebounds, and Bethany Doolittle led with 22 points and 12 rebounds. The crowd erupted in Carver-Hawkeye when the buzzer sounded, and Lisa Bluder led the on-court celebration for Iowa’s first Sweet 16 team since 1996.

“We’re so happy, especially with the huge crowd that came out and to play our last game in Carver,” Dixon said. “To make it to the Sweet 16 is pretty special, and we’re going to remember it forever.” The team had now won 18 games at home, the first Iowa team to achieve such a record, but the postgame celebration this time was special. With Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” blaring over the PA, the team rejoiced at midcourt.

“This group of girls, our awesome coaching staff, seeing everybody in the center of the court after the game smiling, singing and dancing together,” Doolittle said. “It’s something that’ll be in my memory for the rest of my life.” It was a fitting farewell for perhaps the greatest single class to ever come through Iowa. This senior class has the most wins in the last 21 years at Iowa, and Logic, Dixon, and Doolittle are all 1,000-point scorers, as well as holding various individual records.

They came to Iowa in 2011, already a strong program, but have taken, and are currently taking, it to new heights. “I know those kids worked hard,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said after her team’s loss. “Those seniors on that team came here with a dream, and I think they can go a long way. If we were going to lose, at least I have the upmost respect for the program we lost to.”

Leadership, work ethic, talent, and respect. It’s no surprise these seniors have led their team to be one of the final 16 standing. “This group of four seniors has been so special,” Bluder said.

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