Hawkeye Women Take Aim At Notre Dame
By Jeff Linder, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa A huge challenge awaits.
So does a huge opportunity.
"If this doesn't get you up, nothing will," said Samantha Logic, point guard for the University of Iowa women's basketball team.
The Hawkeyes (21-12) load up their slingshots for Tuesday's second-round NCAA tournament game against second-ranked Notre Dame (32-1).
Tipoff is 8:40 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes know they are heavy underdogs against one of the nation's elite programs. They know they'll have to play a remarkable game in order to compete.
"Our defense is going to have to be incredible," Jaime Printy said. "And we're going to have to score.
"We've got them on our home court, and we're in a position in which nobody thinks we can beat them."
Nobody except the Hawkeyes.
"We have the belief that we can do anything," said Iowa post Morgan Johnson. "That gives us the ability to do amazing things."
Tuesday's winner advances to Sunday's regional semifinal at Norfolk, Va., against South Carolina or Kansas.
Notre Dame owns a 27-game winning streak. The Fighting Irish are dealing with something that none of the other No. 1 seeds (Baylor, Connecticut and Stanford) must contend with playing a true road game in Round 2.
"Iowa has a home-court advantage here. Everyone knows that," said Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa. "But we've played a lot of great away games this year and I think it's just about focusing on what we are going to do and how we are going to play, and just try to take the crowd out of it."
Sunday's Carver crowd of 6,836 ranked third of the 16 first-round sites.
"The crowd is going to be against us and there are going to be a lot of people cheering against us," said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
Notre Dame scored at will in its first-round game, a 97-64 rout of Tennessee-Martin.
The Fighting Irish average 81.3 points per game and have four double-digit scorers.
"We have to find a way to score with them," said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. "They are explosive offensively, so we've got to knock down shots."
Iowa did so in the second half Sunday, erasing a seven-point deficit and pulling away from Miami (Fla.), 69-53.
Logic posted 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Melissa Dixon added 13 points all in the second half.
"Iowa has some shooters ... they are a smart team," said Notre Dame freshman Jewell Loyd. "It's just about playing team defense and making sure that we are sticking true to our principles and playing great defense."
Tuesday's late start means a long day of anticipation.
"I'm going to be hyped," Johnson said. "Our emotions have to be under control. I'll go to class and try not to overthink about it. Keep the rhythm of my day."
Achonwa said, "It's just about getting your feet up, resting, watching some film, and just spending some time relaxing and mentally preparing for the game. You don't want to get too relaxed where you're sitting around all day."
The Hawkeyes have advanced to the second round for the fourth time under Bluder. They are seeking their first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1996.
In that time, Notre Dame has made it to regionals 10 times. The Irish were national runners-up each of the last two years.
The Hawkeyes are heavy underdogs. But they believe.
"This tournament needs a little more madness," Logic said. "Why not start with us?"
IOWA (21-12) vs. NOTRE DAME (32-1)
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Tipoff: 8:40 p.m. Tuesday
Radio: WMT-AM (600), KXIC-AM (800), WHO-AM (1040)
Iowa coach: Lisa Bluder (13th year at Iowa, 251-156; 29th year overall, 607-298). Key Iowa players: C Morgan Johnson (6-5, sr., 14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .528 FG%), G Jaime Printy (5-11, sr., 12.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, .923 FT%), G Samantha Logic (5-9, soph., 9.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.5 apg, 1.9 spg).
Notre Dame coach: Muffet McGraw (26th year at Notre Dame, 622-216; 31st year overall, 711-257). Key Notre Dame players: G Skylar Diggins (5-9, sr., 16.8 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.1 spg, .819 FT%), G Kayla McBride (5-11, jr., 15.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, .917 FT%), F Natalie Achonwa (6-3, jr., 13.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, .528 FG%).
How they got here: Iowa rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 18 1/2 minutes to defeat Miami (Fla.), 69-53; Notre Dame blasted Tennessee-Martin, 97-64.