Notre Dame Ends Iowa's Season In NCAA Second Round

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

Iowa's Melissa Dixon, Bethany Doolittle, Samanatha Logic, and Theairra Taylor gather during the second half of their Round Two NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament game against Notre Dame at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, in Iowa City, Iowa. Notre Dame won, 74-57. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Grant Burkhardt

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Lisa Bluder knew what it would take to turn the women's basketball world on its ear.

"We had to experience a near-perfect night to beat that team," she said. "It just didn't happen tonight."

Kayla McBride established a career high with 28 points -- including 24 in the first half -- as second-ranked Notre Dame handled Iowa, 74-57, in a second-round NCAA tournament game Tuesday night in front of 4,942 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes failed to hit a 3-pointer in 11 attempts. It was the first time they didn't make a trey since Dec. 4, 2005 (against Rutgers).

Notre Dame (33-1) won its 28th consecutive game will face upstart Kansas (20-13) in a regional semifinal Sunday at Norfolk, Va.

"They're obviously a great team," said Iowa senior Jaime Printy, a Marion native who concluded her collegiate career along with classmates Morgan Johnson and Trisha Nesbitt.

"I'm proud of my team. We came out and battled."

Iowa retired at 21-13. The Hawkeyes competed, but were never really in the game.

"We wanted to stay in the ball game and give ourselves a chance," Johnson said. "But they got on top, and there was no coming back tonight."

The Fighting Irish led from the start, scoring on their first four possessions for a quick 9-4 lead. It was 15-6 at the first media timeout, then 21-8 before the Hawkeyes played their best stretch of the half.

A 10-3 surge, keyed by a pair of baskets from Theairra Taylor, brought Iowa within 24-18 and elicited some major decibels from the Carver crowd.

But that was as close as the Hawkeyes got.

Seven straight Notre Dame points pushed the margin to 31-18. It was 46-34 at halftime, then the Irish led by as many as 23 points late in the game.

"We’re all business right now at two games at a time and ready to move on," said Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw. "We’re just anxious to get back home to class in the morning and start our preparation for the next round."

Bluder pulled Johnson and Printy, then Nesbitt to standing ovations with about a minute to go.

"It's tough to say good bye to some really good seniors and a tremendous group of women, great leaders," Bluder said.

On Monday, both Bluder and McGraw referred to Irish point guard Skylar Diggins as the "face of women's college basketball."

But McBride was the Notre Dame star with the brightest shine this weekend.

After a 22-point, 10-rebound performance in a first-round win over Tennessee-Martin, the junior topped that in the first half.

She was 8 of 13 from the floor (4 of 5 from long range) and 4 for 4 from the line before intermission.

Diggins added 16 points, but her visit to Iowa City was memorable just as much for her interaction with the fans.

After one of Diggins' seven turnovers, the Carver folks let her know about it. Diggins pointed her index finger toward the roof and mouthed the word:

"Scoreboard. Scoreboard."

Diggins said, "This team has played in so many tough atmospheres, we played at Gampel Pavilion (at Connecticut), Tennessee and any Big East program we played in, we got their best crowds, so we’re used to this, this experience that we had playing in the road.

"And Iowa is another tough environment."

Natalie Achonwa registered her school-record 17th double-double of the season -- 11 points, 14 rebounds -- for the Fighting Irish.

Bethany Doolittle led the Hawkeyes with 16 points, one of the best nights of her career.

Printy and Taylor added 10 points apiece. Samantha Logic posted nine points and nine rebounds, but committed 11 turnovers.

"Their trap gave me a lot of trouble," Logic said. "I didn't give us a chance. In a lot of those situations, I didn't handle them the right way.

"I wasn't composed enough, and we, as a team, at some points weren't composed enough."

The Hawkeyes needed to be nearly perfect Tuesday, and they weren't.

NOTRE DAME 74, IOWA 57

At Iowa City

IOWA (57): Bethany Doolittle 8-14 0-0 16, Morgan Johnson 3-5 1-1 7, Samantha Logic 3-9 3-4 9, Theairra Taylor 5-10 0-0 10, Jaime Printy 3-10 4-4 10, Claire Till 1-1 0-0 2, Trisha Nesbitt 0-1 0-0 0, Kathy Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Melissa Dixon 1-10 1-2 3, Kali Peschel 0-0 0-0 0, Nicole Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Kayla Timmerman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 9-11 57.

NOTRE DAME (74): Natalie Achonwa 3-9 5-6 11, Ariel Braker 2-5 1-2 5, Skylar Diggins 5-11 6-7 16, Kayla McBride 10-21 4-4 28, Jewell Loyd 5-11 2-2 14, Whitney Holloway 0-0 0-0 0, Kaila Turner 0-6 0-0 0, Madison Cable 0-2 0-0 0, Michaela Mabrey 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Markisha Wright 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 18-21 74.

Halftime: Notre Dame 46, Iowa 34. 3-point goals: Iowa 0-11 (Logic 0-1, Printy 0-4, Dixon 0-6), Notre Dame 6-16 (Diggins 0-1, McBride 4-7, Loyd 2-3, Turner 0-4, Cable 0-1). Team fouls: Iowa 18, Notre Dame 14. Fouled out: none. Technical: Achonwa. Rebounds: Iowa 36 (Logic 9), Notre Dame 45 (Achonwa 14). Assists: Iowa 11 (Logic 5), Notre Dame 15 (Diggins 5). Steals: Iowa 5 (Taylor 2), Notre Dame 7 (Diggins 3). Turnovers: Iowa 21, Notre Dame 15.

Attendance: 4,942.

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