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Bench big in Iowa's NCAA Tournament win over Miami

Ryan Murken
rmurken@press-citizen.com
Iowa's Kali Peschel (25) is congratulated by teammate Alexa Kastanek (1) for making a three pointer during the second half in the Hawkeyes’ 88-70 win over Miami. Peschel scored eight points off the bench.

Iowa's bench play wasn't a factor in Friday's NCAA Tournament opening-round win over American.

In fact the Hawkeye reserves were hardly noticed in the 75-67 victory over the Eagles.

On Sunday, Iowa's bench production was hard to ignore.

After notching two points and a single rebound in 30 combined minutes in Friday's tournament opener, Iowa reserves accounted for 16 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday's 88-70 win over Miami.

"They were huge today," Iowa senior Samantha Logic said of the bench players. "We have so much confidence in them every single time they go on the floor."

Junior Kali Peschel led the Iowa bench charge with eight points on Sunday.

Freshman Chase Coley had six points and sophomore Alexa Kastanek had two as Iowa held a 16-5 advantage in bench points.

"I think what is going to make the difference in this tournament is if we are able to have bench contributions," Peschel said. "I think that was huge today in the win."

Peschel added five rebounds in 14 minutes as Iowa held a 44-35 rebounding edge.

The 6-foot-1 junior had scored in double-figures in two straight games before being held to two points in the win over American.

Peschel hit all three of her field goal attempts on Sunday, including two 3-pointers, and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range on the season.

"Kali Peschel, people don't realize she's the second best three‑point shooter on our team," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "She's the second best free-throw shooter on our team, she's coming in and doing great things. I think she's playing the best basketball of her career right now."

Peschel wasn't alone in producing off the bench on Sunday.

Iowa's Chase Coley (4) puts up a jump shot over Miami’s Jassany Williams (21) in the first half on Sunday. The freshman had six points in a rebound in five minutes played off the bench.

Coley was productive in her five minutes of playing time.

The 6-foot-3 freshman was 3-of-4 from the field and had an assist and a rebound on Sunday.

"The bench being productive is very important because our starters can only do so much," Coley said. "They are amazing players and they do amazing things for us but everyone that comes off the bench really takes some weight off their shoulders when we produce."

Sophomore Alexa Kastanek was equally effective.

Kastanek had four rebounds and two assists without a turnover and added a steal in eight minutes.

"Lex hits a bucket and has a great pass and plays great defense and has a couple huge rebounds in like five minutes," Logic said of Kastanek. "She had just huge production that you won't even see when you look at the stat sheet. Just huge minutes when Melissa got in a little bit of foul trouble towards the end."

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.