From upset alert to underdog in two hours, that’s life for the Iowa women’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament.
Leading up to Sunday’s NCAA tournament opener with 11th seed Marist, an ESPN analyst or two pegged sixth-seed Iowa as a potential upset victim.
Iowa made sure that notion never entered the minds of the 5,800 plus fans in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (27-8) shot better than 57 percent in an emphatic 87-65 win over Marist in a game that looked nothing like the evenly matched contest many predicted.
The Hawkeyes led 38-30 at halftime and wasted little time turning what was viewed as a toss-up by some into a blowout.
“This season we have really showed that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Iowa freshman Ally Disterhoft said. “Twenty-seven wins is one of the most in program history, and we are playing some of our best basketball right now, and this is when you want to be playing your best basketball, NCAA tournament time, when anything can happen. Seeds are thrown out the door.”
Whether they wanted to say it leading up to the game or not, Iowa players didn’t feel like a sixth seed coming into the tournament, and the Hawkeyes didn’t look like one Sunday.
With the possible exception of one well-placed elbow to Sam Logic’s jaw, Iowa played the role of Big Ten bully to perfection Sunday.
The Hawkeyes were bigger, stronger and, as Marist coach Brian Giorgis admitted, more athletic than the Red Foxes.
Iowa, who has been outrebounding by an average of 1.8 rebounds per game on the season, held a 41-23 advantage on the glass Sunday.
Led by Theairra Taylor’s career-high five 3-pointers, Iowa finished with 12 triples and proved to be far more than the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs from New York could handle.
“People forget they’re a little bit more athletic that we are,” Giorgis said. “They’ve got three excellent 3-point shooters and an all-Big Ten stud in the middle.”
Iowa’s role will take a 180 degree turn in less than 48 hours.
The Hawkeyes will switch from the role of potential upset victim to the underdog Tuesday when they meet No. 4 Louisville in the second round at 8:30 p.m.
The third-seeded Cardinal dispatched of overmatched Idaho 88-42 in the first round Sunday.
The defending national runner-up Louisville (31-4) has lost three times this season to top-ranked and unbeaten Connecticut and will enter Tuesday’s second round tilt as a heavy favorite despite playing on Iowa’s home court.
“Playing a team like Louisville, now people are going to expect them to win, flat out, they are going to expect them to win,” Logic said. “They’ve been ranked in the top five almost all year, they are a great team and they’ll be expected to win.”
Logic, the junior point guard who finished a rebound shy of her fourth triple double of the season flashed a grin after pointing out the Hawkeyes would return to their familiar underdog role.
At this point, it’s a role the Hawkeyes seem to relish and one that fits the current roster to a T.
Gritty, determined, never lacking for confidence and never in need of motivation, even if its being offered up.
“We knew about it (being named a potential upset), but if you don’t have enough motivation before that to win a game in the NCAA tournament, you aren’t really that big of a competitor anyways,” Logic said. “If you don’t want to win bad enough before that, I mean, I don’t know, but I don’t think anyone on our team needs anything like that to get motivated.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball