Last week, I talked to first-year assistant coach Lacey Goldwire about the regular season for the Iowa Hawkeye women’s basketball team.
This week, we’ll look at the Big Ten Tournament, the NCAA Tournament, returning players and new recruits.
The Hawks finished 27-9, 11-5 in the Big Ten, which tied Purdue for fourth place.
“Losing to Purdue by one at their gym knocked us down to the fifth spot,” said Lacey. “We had a lot of players play a lot of minutes, so when we got to the Big Ten Tournament we said ‘We’re here, let’s do this.’ It’s different when you don’t have to go to class so when we got to the tournament it was like a vacation and we made it as much like Cancun as possible.”
They sure did.
Iowa started out beating Illinois, 82-62, for the second time in four days. Bethany Doolittle led the way with a career-high 26 points.
The Hawkeyes got a payback win over Purdue in the second game, scoring 51 points in the second half and knocking out the 15th-ranked Boilermakers, 87-80. All five Iowa starters were in double figures and Samantha Logic had 11 assists.
The Hawks beat Ohio State 77-73 to advance to the finals. Iowa’s lone senior, Theairra Taylor, led the way with 21 points.
Nebraska won the tournament by beating Iowa 72-65 in the championship game.
“We did have a few things we could have changed that would have made a heck of a difference against Nebraska,” said Lacey. “But we got to the Big Ten Championship. We would have loved to get Theairra a ring.”
The Hawkeyes hosted Marist in the first round of the NCAA tournament and with all five starters in double figures, won big time, 87-65.
“We were built for a win like that,” said coach Lacey. “There was a great crowd that night and it really helped.”
Theairra once again led Iowa with 22 points.
Iowa’s season ended with an 83-53 loss to fourth-ranked Louisville.
What a good season...what a great run.
Theairra Taylor was the lone senior on the team. She started every game, averaged a career-high 12.4 points per game, totaled 104 assists and 60 steals, both career highs.
“The girls loved her and wanted to play for her,” said Lacey. “Every time we got down or the going got rough they would always look to Thea and rally around her. That was one of the greatest things about this team is that you didn’t have to ask them to play hard.”
The Hawkeyes will have four starters back as well as four top-notch recruits and it all starts with Bethany Doolittle in the middle.
Bethany was named second-team All-Big Ten and has 184 career blocked shots. That’s the third most in Hawkeye history.
“She could post up, shoot the corner shot and had good quickness in the middle,” said Lacey. “I’m so glad she’s back next year along with Melissa and Samantha.”
Melissa Dixon hit 97 3-pointers, which is the most in program history. She averaged 6.8 points as a sophomore, 10.1 as a junior and 13.1 as a senior.
“She really worked hard on beating people off the dribble,” said coach Lacey. “Now we’re working on her driving and finishing at the rim.”
The straw that stirs the drink is Samantha Logic.
Samantha’s 622 assists is already the most in program history. She is second in Big Ten history with four triple-doubles and she has started every game (101) as a Hawkeye.
“Sam has matured to the point that she doesn’t have to have the ball in her hands,” said Lacey. “She can still work to get herself open and do other things. I don’t know that she could have done that three years ago.”
Kali Peschel started the first 19 games last year and finished the season with 140 rebounds, which was third on the team.
“She is a good fundamental player,” said coach Lacey. “Kali was a great teammate and did a good job of coming off the bench. She kept a great attitude and helped us become a great team.”
Kathryn Reynolds, a redshirt sophomore, gave Iowa some good minutes coming off the bench against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament when Iowa guards got into foul trouble or were injured.
“She initiates our offense, plays solid defense and doesn’t make mistakes,” said Lacey. “She’s a true point guard and does such a good job on the bench seeing what’s going on, on the court. She is like our fifth coach on the bench.”
Nicole Smith, a sophomore, got hurt in the first game of the season and missed 25 games. Nicole is 6’4 and could bring some depth in the middle.
Claire Till did a great job coming off the bench and despite being only 6’0, came in and played center when Bethany got into foul trouble or needed a rest.
“She was one of the best players in our zone, offense and defense on the team,” said Lacey.
Ally Disterhoft came off the bench the first 19 games, then started the last 17. The former West High Trojan scored 474 points, the second-most ever as a freshman in Iowa history.
“She was one of the best 3-point shooters on our team last year,” said Lacey. “She didn’t back away from anyone. She’s a competitor and she wants to win.”
Alexa Kastanek played in 34 games, missing two in the Big Ten Tournament with an injury. Alex had to play to point guard last season even though she came in as more of a shooting guard.
“Alexa had to come in and play a different position then she maybe wanted to,” said the coach. “It’s tough to play a position you didn’t play in high school. She handled it really well and going up against Sam in practice helped her get better.”
The Hawkeyes signed four top recruits last November that will add depth and talent to next year’s team.
Whitney Jennings is a 5’5 point guard from Indiana who was a Parade All-American and was winner of the IndyStar Miss Basketball Award, an annual honor for the state’s top basketball player.
Whitney averaged 32 points per game as a senior, as well as averaging eight rebounds, 7.4 assists and five steals.
“A good athlete that can score in a lot of ways,” said coach Lacey. “She played three sports in high school (basketball, soccer and tennis) and did well in each.”
Chase Coley (6’3) was named the Gatorade Minnesota Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Chase, who grew up in Minneapolis, averaged 24.4 points, 18.4 rebounds, 9.4 blocked shots, 6.2 assists and 5.7 steals as a senior.
9.4 blocked shots per game? Wow!
“Chase can handle the ball and post up,” said Lacey. “We’re excited to have her.”
Christina Buttenham (6’0) is a forward from Hamilton, Ontario.
“Christina is competing for a junior national team so she might not be here in the summer,” said Lacey. “She has an amazing work ethic. We have no doubt that she will come in and be ready.”
Carley Mohns (6’1) grew up in Brodhead, Wisconsin, and led her team to four straight conference basketball titles.
“She strong, kind of a blue collar worker,” said Lacey. “She likes to hunt and fish. She’s definitely something that we don’t have right now.”
It will be fun to watch them in Game Time this summer.
With four starters back, including All-Big Ten point guard Samantha Logic, expectations will be high.