On their day, Hawkeye seniors lift Iowa past Minnesota
There are fitting endings, there are happy senior days and then there is what went down Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa's four seniors combined for 66 points as the Hawkeyes set a school record for home victories with a 92-76 win over Minnesota (22-8, 11-7) in front of a season-high 9,726 fans.
Each Iowa senior did exactly what has made the group the winningest graduating class in 21 years on Sunday as No. 17 Iowa (23-6, 14-4) improved to 16-0 at home.
Bethany Doolittle set a single-game school record with nine blocks, Melissa Dixon hit eight 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 27 points and Samantha Logic handed out 13 assists.
Even backup Kathryn Reynolds got into the mix with a 3-pointer in the final minutes as Iowa secured the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament that opens Wednesday at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
"I don't think you could ask for a better storybook ending than this game," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We beat the team, we go 16-0 at home here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, set a record for that and we had enough of a lead that that we can take our seniors out one at a time and get the ovation they deserve."
Dixon led four Iowa players in double figures as Iowa avenged a 93-80 loss to the Gophers in Minneapolis 13 days ago.
Iowa's all-time leader in career 3-pointers, Dixon was 8-of-11 from behind the arc.
"With a great crowd like we had today it was so awesome and so special for us seniors to get this win," Dixon said. "My teammates, as always, did a great job of finding me in the gaps of the zone."
Logic and Doolittle both added double-doubles for the Hawkeyes, who earned a double bye to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
Doolittle finished one block away from a triple-double.
The Minnesota native had 12 points and 12 rebounds to go with her blocks.
Doolittle has 260 career blocks, second in program history.
"It's definitely just nice to get the win after what we did at their place, that wasn't quite what we wanted to do," Doolittle said of the loss to Minnesota on Feb. 17. "It was definitely a special night overall and being able to come out with a win just makes it that much sweeter."
Not to be outdone by her senior counterparts, Logic had 24 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
It was her eighth double-double of the season and gave Logic 853 career assists, adding to her own school record.
"It's just special," Logic said. "We just wanted to get our last for sure win at Carver and I think we are going to be here again but to be able to play well, get Minnesota back on senior day, Kathryn gets in a hits a three, as coach said it's a storybook ending and I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Iowa raced to a 15-2 lead five minutes into the game but Minnesota battled back and led 30-29 with 5:11 left in the opening half.
A Dixon 3-pointer gave Iowa a 32-30 lead they would never give up.
Iowa ended the half on an 8-3 run to take a 42-37 halftime lead.
The Hawkeyes took control of the game with 10-0 run early in the second half.
Dixon started the spurt with a 3-pointer and Logic and Doolittle each had baskets as Iowa pushed the margin to 56-44.
Minnesota never got closer than seven points the rest of the game.
Iowa shot 46.5 percent from the field and had 28 assists and just 10 turnovers.
"We always like to say that is Iowa basketball, that's what we do," Bluder said. "We share the ball well, we pass the ball well we take care of it."
Minnesota was led by Shae Kelley with 29 points and 12 rebounds while Amanda Zahui B. added 22 points and 21 rebounds.
After making 8-of-12 3-pointers in its win over Iowa earlier this month, Minnesota was just 4-of-18 from 3-point range.
"I felt like we did a much better job in our transition defense covering their threes," Bluder said.
"Those two are going to get their numbers," Bluder said of Zahui B. and Kelley. "They're going to get their numbers, right? But if we take away the 3-point shooting, I thought that was really important."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.