The Iowa women’s basketball team was reminded of the other side of the scoring column in the quarterfinal of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball a year removed from winning it all tonight when they fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 87-66.
Iowa had a lot to prove this season, not only as reigning champions of the tournament, but in replacing superstar Megan Gustafson. They proved that in the regular season, and expectations were high heading into the postseason. But the repeat wasn’t meant to be, as the Hawkeyes could never get an offensive groove going and saw Big Ten Player of the Year Kathleen Doyle hit the floor multiple times with injuries.
Ohio State got out to an early lead, taking advantage of Iowa’s three early turnovers and getting hot from beyond the arc to jump out to a 25-5 lead halfway through the first quarter, thanks to 5-6 3-point shooting and a 19-0 run.
That proved to be the killing blow, way, way too early in the game.
For Ohio State, Kierstan Bell had a career night off the bench, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shots from deep in the first half alone for 14 points. She finished as Ohio State’s leading scorer with 16, followed by Dorka Juhasz and Braxtin Miller (not the quarterback) with 15 each.
It was a rough night statistically for the Hawkeyes. No one was able to score with consistency, particularly Monic Czinano, who finished the night with only 11 points, but on 4-14 shooting from the field. Iowa was led in scoring by Kathleen Doyle with 16, despite all the times she hit the floor with injuries, as well as Makenzie Meyer and Alexis Sevillian, who had 13 points each.
Iowa went over 8 minutes of the first quarter without a field goal and in the meantime, Ohio State just destroyed Iowa from deep. Ohio State gave Iowa defensive fits beneath the basket, blocking three shots in the first quarter alone. With just under a couple minutes left in the first quarter, Kathleen Doyle hit the ground hard and left the game. Combined with Amanda Ollinger’s limited availability due to a car accident earlier this week, it shortened IOwa’s bench, scoring ability and rebounding ability greatly.
Despite that, Doyle quickly came back into the game and Iowa ripped off a 6-0 run of its own to draw within 14. The Hawks ended the first quarter down 29-14.
Iowa stormed back in the second quarter, getting defensive stops and scoring production from Kathleen Doyle and Monica Czinano. Iowa cut the lead down to 14 and 12 multiple times, but every time it seemed like the Hawks might be able to get the deficit down to single digits, the Buckeyes would respond and make the lead seem unmanageable again.
The second half wasn’t much better. Iowa missed its first two shots and Ohio State hit its first 2 shots...you guessed it, from deep, and the deficit quickly return to 20+ points. The onslaught continued as Czinano couldn’t hit a basket to save her life. To add insult to injury, Doyle went up for a rebound and landed awkwardly on the foot of an Ohio State player, and twisted her ankle. She left the court with a noticeable limp.
She checked back in moments later, despite obviously still being in pain. Obviously the game was awful, but the grit and determination from Doyle was admirable in every way. Back spasms, twisted ankle, physical play after physical play...none of it could keep the Big Ten Player of the Year off the court.
Talk about leading by example.
It’s hard to say, but this disappointing exit from the Big Ten Tournament might cost Iowa the chance to host first and second round games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Regardless, it seems like the general consensus is that the lowest they could drop is a 5 seed. Regardless, this is a disappointing beginning to the postseason.
Let’s hope the Hawks can get healthy and get a good draw for the NCAA Tournament.