Bombs away: Dixon’s triples spark Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY – Iowa sophomore guard Melissa Dixon has the uncanny ability to strike at any moment for her Hawkeye basketball team.
And not even three turnovers, two fouls and zero points in the first half would stop the sharpshooter on Sunday as her three quick 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half helped ninth-seeded Iowa get back into the game. The momentum built from there, driving the Hawkeyes to a 69-53 win over eighth-seeded Miami (Fla.) in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Dixon finished with 13 points and Logic added 23 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
“I am really happy for this basketball team. They really wanted this win,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Sam Logic was extraordinary today. Not many guards can average a double-double with points and rebounds.”
The Hawkeyes (21-12) will next face No. 2 Notre Dame (32-1) at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Fighting Irish dispatched No. 16 seed UT-Martin, 97-64, in Sunday’s first game.
“We don’t have anything to lose,” said Dixon, the Big Ten’s Sixth Player of the Year. “We have an incredible opportunity with Notre Dame coming in here on our home court.”
The Hawkeyes withstood a big rebounding advantage by Miami and fought through some foul trouble in the first half to advance.
The Hurricanes had a 53-37 advantage on the boards but turned it over 24 times, which led directly to 26 points at the other end for Iowa.
“It was a shockingly poor performance. I say that trying to compliment my team,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “I thought we fixed some stuff, but it didn’t happen today. I am disappointed. I am shocked.
“Iowa has got some basketball players. They are composed and the ball meant more to them than it did to us. They were strong with the ball and we were loose with the ball.”
Seniors Jaime Printy and Morgan Johnson and junior Theairra Taylor all scored nine points for Iowa.
Miami (21-11) led by one at the break.
The rebounding margin bothered Bluder but she was happy that her team turned 14 offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points. Miami had 25 offensive rebounds but only scored 17 second-chance points.
“To score just 17 points off 25 offensive rebounds is almost hideous,” Meier said. “Twenty-five offensive rebounds has to be at least 25 points. And the 24 turnovers really hurt. I didn’t see a press. We just didn’t value the ball enough tonight.”
The Hawkeyes struggled to score against the Hurricanes’ physical defense in the first half. Every bucket Iowa got was earned. Miami stayed in the game with strong rebounding but kept Iowa in the contest by turning the ball over 13 times.
Miami jumped out to a seven-point lead with six quick points to open the second half.
That is when Dixon decided to put a big imprint on the game, like she has done so much this season.
She buried back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Miami’s lead to one and then hit another that got the crowd on its feet. Printy added another triple a few possessions later and Iowa was off to the races, going on a 23-7 run to take over the game.
“I was well rested because I didn’t play much in the first half,” Dixon laughed. “We ran our set plays really well. They switched on the screens and I got open. The teammates made some nice passes and I was able to knock them down.”
Meier added, “That is what (Dixon) does. She is one of the more dangerous players in the country and she has that mental toughness that you need to be able to come cold off the bench. She came in cold and struck us down.”
Logic was aggressive from the opening tip and was the big reason Iowa stayed within one at halftime. She kept the team composed. Her 13 points at the break didn’t hurt either.
“That is the role of the point guard,” said Logic, who was Meier’s primary focus coming into the game. “You have to take a deep breath. We had to just stay in the game and keep our composure. We were only down one and didn’t really play that well.”
Iowa’s defense held Miami to 30 percent shooting from the field. Miami was 14-of-26 from the in the loss, while Iowa hit 18-of-25 from the charity stripe.
The pro-Iowa home crowd was desperately waiting for a chance to erupt. That moment didn’t come until Dixon went back-to-back from distance. That turned the game in Iowa’s favor and the Hawkeyes never looked back.
“When Melissa hit those threes, this place went crazy,” Bluder said. “They got behind us and we were able to get on a roll.”
Iowa improved to 10-5 in NCAA tournament games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It was Iowa’s first NCAA tournament win since beating Rutgers in 2010.
All six Big Ten Conference teams playing in the NCAA tournament were victorious in their first-round games. Iowa set a new school record for assists in a season Sunday with 523. The previous record was 514 set in 2011-12. Logic’s double-double was her 12th of the season. She has two double-doubles in both of her two career NCAA tournament games. Johnson had 11 rebounds in the win. It was the 10th time she had double-digit rebounds in a game this season. Shawnice Wilson had 15 points and 18 rebounds to lead Miami, while Morgan Stroman added 15 points and eight boards. No other Hurricane scored more than eight in the loss.