IOWA CITY, Ia. — Don’t be fooled by the final score.
The ninth-seeded Iowa women’s basketball team played well in Tuesday’s 74-57 loss to top-seeded Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were just on another level, cruising to a second-round victory in the NCAA Tournament.
“You have to expect almost a near-perfect night to beat a team like Notre Dame,” Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said. “And we just didn’t have it.”
Whenever Iowa (21-13) threatened to creep back into contention, the Irish (33-1) elevated their performance.
The Hawkeyes shot 47.1 percent in the first half, but ended 0-for-11 from 3-point range. Notre Dame, meanwhile, scored 19 points off turnovers and converted 18-of-21 free throws.
“Second half, we just couldn’t buy a bucket,” Bluder said. “For us to go oh-for-the-3-point line is pretty unusual.”
Kayla McBride was a primary catalyst for the Irish, scoring a career-high 28 points on a series of jumpers that thwarted Iowa’s upset bid.
“It’s tournament time,” McBride said. “When I go out there, I’m not worried about scoring. I’m worried about winning a game.”
The Irish, winners of 28 straight games, advanced to meet 12th seed Kansas in the Sweet16.
They entered Carver-Hawkeye Arena as heavy favorites to make their fifth Final Four under hall of fame coach Muffet McGraw.
“We’re all business right now,” McGraw said. “We’re ready to move on. Anxious to get back home, get to class in the morning and start our preparation for the next round.”
McGraw led Notre Dame to a national title in 2001, and may have the only team capable of dethroning top-ranked Baylor.
The Hawkeyes were making their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and were seeking their first trip to the Sweet16 since 1996.
They were supported by a mostly black-and-gold crowd, but Notre Dame was undaunted.
The Irish hit their first four shots and McBride added two free throws, building an 11-4 cushion.
Iowa point guard Samantha Logic drew her second foul with 16:54 left in the first half.
Logic continued to play, but the Hawkeyes never completely recovered.
“I just think (Notre Dame) is a really good team,” said Bethany Doolittle, who led Iowa with 16 points. “We were looking to stop their runs … some of the time, we couldn’t do that as well as we should have.”
Moments after Doolittle trimmed the margin to 24-18 with a baseline jumper, Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd scored off a lob pass.
Fans rose and cheered when Theairra Taylor’s layup pulled the Hawkeyes within 33-25. McBride answered with a long jumper.
Logic’s layup and free throw made it 38-30. McBride followed with a 3-pointer from left of the key.
“She’s been playing so well lately,” McGraw said. “She’s got a lot of confidence. She’s got the green light and she took advantage of it tonight.”
The Irish were up 46-34 at halftime — shooting 45.5 percent with a 22-14 rebounding edge — then went on an 11-4 run to start the second half, pushing the lead to 57-38.
Iowa was shooting 46.2 percent at that point, but also committed 11 turnovers.
The Hawkeyes showed progress with an opening-round win Sunday over Miami of Florida — Iowa’s second NCAA victory since 2002 — but Notre Dame’s dominance showed the gap between the elite women’s programs and most others.
Other examples Tuesday included Baylor routing Florida State 85-47 and Stanford dispatching Michigan 73-40.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball