March 12, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa women's basketball team enjoyed a run to remember last week at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
"I am proud of this group," said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. "I am proud of their effort and the way we battled."
The Hawkeyes knocked off Illinois (81-62), No. 16 Purdue (87-80), and Ohio State (77-73) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before falling to 15th-ranked Nebraska in the title game (72-65).
Iowa was forced to defeat the Illini and the Buckeyes after playing them a week earlier during the final week of the regular season. The Hawkeyes won all six meetings (three each) against Illinois and Ohio State. Defeating a team three times in one season is no easy feat, and Iowa did it twice during its run in the Circle City.
In the quarterfinals, Iowa revenged its only meeting with the Boilermakers during the regular season: a heartbreaking 74-73 loss in West Lafayette. It also marked the end of Purdue's quest for a three-peat at the Big Ten Tournament.
In Indianapolis, the Hawkeyes showed what they have truly been all season long: a team, and a resilient one at that.
"We showed our resiliency," said freshman Ally Disterhoft, joined on the all-tournament team by juniors Bethany Doolittle and Samantha Logic. "We stuck together as a group. Everybody stepped up on the offensive and defensive end."
Iowa, the only Big Ten team with five players averaging double figures, got countless contributions from its bench.
"We played great team defense and stayed together as a team throughout the tournament," said junior Melissa Dixon.
"We worked hard and played team basketball," said Iowa's lone senior Theairra Taylor. "We play the game the way it is supposed to be played."
Iowa pushed its win total to 26 with its three tournament victories, marking the highest total under Bluder, and the highest since Iowa finished 27-4 in 1995-96. The Hawkeyes (26-8) lead the Big Ten in victories this season.
While Iowa fell just short of its quest to become the first women's team to win four games in four days at the Big Ten Tournament, it is not finished yet.
The Hawkeyes are headed to their Big Ten-leading seventh-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and they know where they will be playing come selection time.
The University of Iowa was one of 16 sites chosen to host First and Second Round Games, and 1-of-8 chosen to host in back-to-back years.
Iowa's First and Second Round Games will be played Sunday, March 23 (4:30 and 7 p.m.) and Tuesday, March 25 (8:30 p.m.). Fans can order tickets by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, visiting the Carver-Hawkeye Arena ticket office, or by visiting hawkeyesports.com.
"We're planning to be around for a long time," said Bluder. "We have home court advantage, and we plan to use it."
The NCAA Selection Show is set for Monday, March 17, at 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.