Iowa women blow out Marist 87-65
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) In a tournament filled with close calls and upsets, few would have been surprised if 11th-seeded Marist scared or even beat Iowa on its home floor.
The only thing stunning on Sunday night was how well the Hawkeyes shot the ball.
Theairra Taylor scored 22 points, Bethany Doolittle added 21 and Iowa blew out Marist 87-65 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Samantha Logic had 11 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the sixth-seeded Hawkeyes (27-8), who will face third-seeded Louisville on Tuesday for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
''I thought they relaxed and had fun out there. Enjoyed playing on their home court. Enjoyed executing. We shot the ball well,'' Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ''We just had so many weapons.''
Iowa took control late in the first half and relied on strong shooting to advance to the second round for the second year in a row. The Hawkeyes shot 57 percent from the field and 12 of 25 from 3-point range.
Emma O'Connor, Sydney Coffey and Madeline Blais each had 12 to lead the 11th-seeded Red Foxes (27-7), who were outscored 49-35 in the second half.
''They shot the hell out of the ball, especially in the second half,'' Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. ''If we played on Mars, Iowa would have beaten us the way they shot the ball.''
Marist drew its best seed since 2011 and was looking to upend a high major with a higher seed for the second time in three years.
But the Red Foxes simply had no answer for Iowa's scalding outside shooting.
Taylor and Ally Disterhoft buried back-to-back 3s to put the Hawkeyes ahead 53-44, and Doolittle's jumper gave Iowa a 13-point lead with just over 10 minutes left.
Disterhoft then hit a 3 from the corner without a Marist defender in sight with 6:55 left, making it 67-51 and perfectly encapsulating Iowa's perimeter dominance.
''Coach just tells us to keep shooting. (Doolittle) was demanding so much attention, we were wide open,'' Taylor said.
What made the Marist-Iowa matchup such an intriguing one was that each team boasted eerily similar offensive profiles.
Each starter for the Red Foxes averaged between 10.9 and 13.6 points per game, while the Hawkeyes had five starters with at least 12 points a game.
That led Giorgis to view the Hawkeyes as a ''better version'' of the Red Foxes because he thought Iowa was a little bigger, a little more physical and from a stronger league, the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes certainly looked the part in their gleaming home whites - while the red in more than a few of Marist's road jerseys bled into the once-white, screen printed numbers during a recent wash.
But the biggest problem the Red Foxes had in the first half wasn't laundry. It was Logic, Taylor and Doolittle, each of whom had 11 points in 20 minutes.
Still, Marist entered the second half down just 38-30. The Red Foxes later got within 47-42 before Taylor drilled a 3 from the elbow, and it wasn't long before Iowa overwhelmed Marist.
Iowa's starters wound up outscoring the Red Foxes starting five 76-47.
''Our kids just got frustrated. Our real big kids just couldn't guard Doolittle inside,'' Giorgis said. ''We got beat in transition way too much.''
The Hawkeyes will be underdogs against Louisville, which drilled Idaho 88-42 in the opener. But Iowa has won seven of its last eight games, and its 27 overall wins are the most for the program since 1996.
''We have to keep our defensive intensity like that. Louisville is a great team, one of the top teams in the country,'' Logic said. ''We have to play great defense, just really focus on that so we can get our offense going.''