IOWA CITY, Ia. — A Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd of 6,836 was waiting to erupt Sunday night.
Thanks to Samantha Logic and Melissa Dixon, the fans were finally able to let loose as the Iowa women’s basketball team rallied past Miami of Florida 69-53 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“To be able to play on our home court was so huge,” Dixon said. “They were behind us the whole time.”
The ninth-seeded Hawkeyes (21-12) trailed 34-27 early in the second half, until Dixon connected on three 3-point baskets in less than 2 minutes.
Eighth-seeded Miami (21-11) fell behind 38-35 and never fully recovered.
“I just think (Dixon is) one of the most dangerous people coming off the bench in the country,” Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said, “because of her mental toughness.”
Dixon finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Logic showed her toughness by maneuvering through Miami’s pressure defense.
The 5-foot-9 point guard scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made sure her teammates were never flustered.
“She was phenomenal,” Meier said of Logic.
Iowa advanced to meet top-seed Notre Dame (32-1) at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the second round.
If the Hawkeyes pull off the upset, they would earn their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1996.
“We all think we don’t have anything to lose,” Dixon said, “and we have this incredible opportunity.”
Iowa had earned just one NCAA Tournament win in the past decade, and hopes for a second seemed to be slipping away.
At one point, Miami owned a 20-11 rebounding edge (they finished with a 53-37 advantage) and the Hawkeyes made just 9-of-29 shots (31 percent) in the first 20 minutes.
“When it was going like that, you just had to take a deep breath,” Logic said. “We just had to stay in the game and pull away at the end.”
The Hurricanes also struggled early, shooting 34.4 percent before halftime.
“I don’t sugarcoat much,” Meier said, “and I think it was a shockingly poor performance by us, on the offensive end.”
Shawnice Wilson, who finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds, hit a layup and four free throws as Miami built a seven-point lead to start the second half.
Dixon, who missed her only two shots of the first half, answered with a
3-pointer from the left wing, then swished another from the left corner.
“I was really rested going into the second half,” Dixon said with a grin. “They switched on a couple screens and allowed me to get open.”
Morgan Johnson gave Iowa a 50-41 lead with 12:12 remaining when she made a layup, was fouled and sank the free throw.
“I think this is definitely one of the most memorable moments for me,” said Johnson, a 6-5 senior. “The NCAA is the biggest stage there is. To get a win in this tournament just proves you were meant to be here.”
Logic helped the Hawkeyes maintain a 62-51 margin with a layup. Dixon added a jumper to give Iowa a 66-51 advantage with 2:38 left.
“Their guards controlled the whole game,” Meier said.
“They were strong with the ball.”
NO. 1 SEED NOTRE DAME NEXT
Notre Dame did what a No. 1 seed is supposed to do, roll past its opening-round opponent.
The Fighting Irish took full advantage of their height in the post and eliminated No. 16 Tennessee-Martin 97-64.
“They’re a great team,” UT-Martin coach Kevin McMillan said. “We got killed on the glass. We may have set an NCAA record on rebound margin.”
Notre Dame owned a 49-14 rebounding advantage.
Natalie Achonwa, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored 8 quick points as the Fighting Irish jumped to a 20-9 lead. The Skyhawks trimmed the margin to 20-16, thanks partly to a 3-pointer from Heather Butler, but trailed 49-31 at halftime.
Markisha Wright, a former Des Moines East star, checked into the game during the second media timeout and promptly scored off a rebound.
She also took a charge with 8:21 left in the half.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore finished with four points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.
Achonwa finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jewell Loyd scored 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Kayla McBride added 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball