Kastanek, hot Iowa offense blow by Buffs to WNIT quarterfinals

Matthew Bain
Iowa's Alexa Kastanek celebrates one of her 3-pointers during the Hawkeyes' WNIT third round game against Colorado at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Colorado is a team with a lot of shooters and not a lot of dominant size. A lot like South Dakota, which Iowa beat 78-73 in the WNIT second round last Saturday.

And like they did against USD, the Hawkeyes jumped to an early 11-point lead against the Buffs. Then they watched that lead quickly shrink to five in the second quarter, just like against USD.

But that's where the similarities end. Iowa exploded for a 17-0 scoring run later in the second and cruised to a 80-62 win. It will host either UC Davis or Washington State in the quarterfinals Sunday at 2 p.m.

This was win No. 699 for Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.

"I thought our team came out tonight and played loose. They played focused," Bluder said. "And it was really fun to see. It just felt great on the floor all the time. To never not have the lead, to win the first three quarters. We valued the ball; we took care of the ball. And then of course (it's great) when you shoot like that."

The Hawkeyes made 14 of their first 20 shots and finished 29-for-59 (49 percent). No one fared better than Alexa Kastanek, who scored a season-high 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting (5-for-9 from long range).

"My teammates just got me open shots," Kastanek said. "Ally, when she passes me my first one, I was open and my feet were set. When that first one falls and you get the lid off the rim, I think that's when you just, as a shooter, know your percentages and just keep shooting."

MORE: 'Team mother' Alexa Kastanek on her career at Iowa

Added Bluder: "I'm so happy for Lex. Her senior year, having a game like that. It's perfect. It's absolutely perfect."

Ally Disterhoft netted 15 points and Makenzie Meyer added 13. Kathleen Doyle had nine points, a pair of assists and three steals.

The Buffs and their 6-foot-4 center Zoe Correal did a great job preventing Iowa from finding Megan Gustafson very often. But she still finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. She's now up to 609 points this season, becoming the fourth player in Iowa history to eclipse 600 in a season — and the first to do it since 1990. She joins Cindy Haugejorde (693 in 1979-80), Michelle Edwards (621 in 1987-88) and Franthea Price (614 in 1989-90).

Bluder's biggest worry entering this game was Kennedy Leonard, Colorado's All-Pac-12 point guard. Leonard's stat line Thursday night: six points on 2-for-14 shooting, five assists, four fouls, six turnovers.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.