Ally Disterhoft grew up in Iowa City dreaming of playing basketball for the hometown Hawkeyes.
The West High graduate and former Miss Iowa Basketball pictured herself helping Iowa to the NCAA tournament.
Never in her wildest dreams did Disterhoft imagine that her first NCAA Tournament game would come at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
That is exactly the situation that Disterhoft faces this week as Iowa prepares to open NCAA Tournament play at 7 p.m. Sunday against Marist.
“I honestly never would have that thought that it would have worked out this way, that I would be playing in front of our great fans in my first NCAA Tournament game,” Disterhoft said. “It’s going to be a great experience.”
Disterhoft has had an immediate impact in her first season in an Iowa uniform.
The 6-foot freshman is averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in her debut season and has been a part of Iowa’s late season surge.
The Hawkeyes have won 12 of 15 games since Disterhoft was inserted into the starting lineup Jan. 19 at Ohio State.
Disterhoft posted a double-double with a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in her first career start and hasn’t slowed down since.
She has scored in double figures in 14 of her 15 career starts and is averaging 14.7 points and 7.5 rebounds over the past 15 games.
“I really think that everything is clicking right now,” Disterhoft said. “We enjoy playing with each other, we enjoy each others’ company and we enjoy playing for these coaches, and it seems like we have a bit of roll going right now.”
Disterhoft will be a key factor in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament opener against Marist, a team that starts three players 6 feet or taller.
Like Iowa, all five of Marist’s starters average double figures in scoring, including perimeter players Sydney Coffey (11.5), Leanne Ockenden (11.7), Madeline Blais (13) and Casey Dulin (10.9).
“Marist is a great team. I think they have made it nine straight years, so we have to be ready,” Disterhoft said. “We have to take care of business on Sunday and going forward. It’s just taking it day by day and continuing to improve and focusing on the thing that you can control, and hopefully execute when it comes crunch time.”
Iowa is making its seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 11th in 14 seasons under coach Lisa Bluder.
The Hawkeyes are hosting first- and second-round games in the tournament for the second straight season.
Last year, Iowa defeated Miami in its tournament opener before falling to top-seeded Notre Dame in the round of 32.
“I think you are always more ready for something the second time around,” Bluder said of hosting the opening rounds. “I think education is a great thing and the more times that you can experience something, I think it becomes easier and you just know what to expect. So I think that our team is definitely enjoying this role right now. They are enjoying that they have the opportunity to host the NCAA Tournament in their house.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball