Iowa seeking signature win at No. 7 Louisville

Ryan Murken
Iowa's Ally Disterhoft drives the basket during the Hawkeyes’ second-round NCAA Tournament game against Louisville in Iowa City on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Iowa lost the game 83-53. The Hawkeyes face the Cardinals Thursday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Ally Disterhoft didn't need any reminders on the outcome of Iowa's NCAA Tournament loss to Louisville last March.

Yet, Disterhoft watched the replay of the 83-53 season-ending loss to the Cardinals anyway.

At home, away from her teammates, Disterhoft watched a tape of the nationally-televised home loss in the second round.

Some players would want to forget such a game, Disterhoft isn't in that group.

"It's still in the back of our minds," Disterhoft said Tuesday. "It's a game that we do not feel like we should have been that far out of."

Disterhoft and the Hawkeyes will get a chance to put last season's lopsided, 30-point loss out of their minds on Thursday when Iowa (6-1) travels to No. 7 Louisville (7-0) for a 6 p.m. tipoff at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.

"We don't think it should have ever been a 30-point game but that's why this opportunity Thursday is awesome," Disterhoft said. "We have a chance to go there and play them again and to prove ourselves and that's what we are going to try to do."

While Thursday's ACC/Big Ten Challenge offers a chance at revenge for Disterhoft and her teammates, it offers much more for an Iowa team ranked 22nd in the latest Associated Press poll.

It gives the Hawkeyes a chance to show they belong in the conversation with the nation's elite.

"That's the goal that you want to get to, that elite status," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We're still a work in progress, we're ranked 22nd right now and that's good, but I feel like we should be undefeated at this point. We're still working hard to get better, we have things to work on but definitely that status is what we're after. That's the goal."

Louisville certainly fits the bill of elite.

Now in his eighth season at Louisville, head coach Jeff Walz has led the Cardinals to the Sweet 16 five times, including national runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2013.

Louisville advanced to the Elite Eight last season after downing Iowa in the second round and finished the season 33-5.

Wins over programs like Louisville, especially on the road, go a long way in March and Iowa recognizes that.

"We just need to keep getting those signature wins," Disterhoft said. "Last year getting the big win at No. 9 Penn State was one of them. This would be fairly similar; Louisville is ranked No. 7 and we're playing on their home court and clearly the underdogs. It's just going into each game and proving yourself and you want to do that against some of the best competition. We have a chance to do that Thursday night."

Winning at Louisville is no easy task.

In fact it's been almost impossible of late.

The Cardinals have won 23 of their 25 home games over the past two seasons, with the losses coming to national powers Connecticut and Maryland.

Over the past five seasons Louisville is 63-8 at home. Thursday is Iowa's first true road game of the season.

"Louisville has an incredible home-court winning percentage, it has been amazing what they have done on their home court," Bluder said. "We know this is a big challenge and I'm interested to see how we respond to their crowd as well as how we respond to their physical play."

The Cardinals lost three starters from last year's Elite Eight team but have gotten a big boost from a pair of highly touted freshmen.

Myisha Hines-Allen, a 6-foot-2 forward, leads Louisville in scoring at 15.1 points per game while fellow freshman Mariya Moore is second on the team with 14.3 points per game.

"They lost some players from last year as well, key players," Bluder said. "But they are still undefeated and ranked seventh."

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No. 22 Iowa (6-1) at No. 7 Louisville (7-0)

• Specifics — 6 p.m., KFC Yum! Center, Louisville.

• Following the game —TV: ESPN3. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring:

• Preview — This year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup is a rematch of last year's NCAA tournament second round game that Louisville won 83-53 in Iowa City. The Cardinals return just two starts from last year's Elite Eight team and are led in scoring by a pair of freshman in Myisha Hines-Allen (15.1 ppg) and Mariya Moore (14.3 ppg).