Hawkeyes' season ends in WNIT quarterfinals loss to Washington State

Matthew Bain

IOWA CITY, Ia. — It got loud in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a minute and a half left in Iowa's Women's National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal loss against Washington State on Sunday. The Hawkeyes trailed 62-58 — the closest they'd been since the third quarter — and much of the 5,146 in attendance were on their feet, ready for a comeback as the shot clock trickled down on the Cougars.

Then Alexys Swedlund got an angle, drove to the bucket and drew a foul to shut everyone up. She made a free throw to push the lead up to 63-58.

A couple minutes earlier, Ally Disterhoft drained a pair of free throws to make it 57-49. Carver was loud again. And, again, Washington State shut it up, this time with a Ivana Kmetovska bank shot.

Iowa's Kathleen Doyle looks for a call after getting thrown to the ground during the Hawkeyes' WNIT Elite Eight game against Washington State at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Iowa's Alexa Kastanek heads to the bench in the final moments of the Hawkeyes' WNIT Elite Eight game against Washington State at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

More of the same happened throughout the second half. Washington State answered every Hawkeye basket, stomped out every comeback attempt. Iowa let a 20-13 lead slip away and lost 74-66 to the Cougars on Sunday afternoon. The Hawkeyes end their season at 20-14, just short of the WNIT semifinals.

"Every time we'd get it down to 3, then they'd make a basket," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "And it was hard. We never really got — if we would've just caught up, maybe, one time. But our fans did their best of trying to support us and give us energy out there. So thanks to them."

Iowa exploded for a 12-0 run in the first quarter, but it never looked the same from quarter No. 2 and on. It was down 34-31 at the break and trailed the rest of the game.

The Cougars closed out effectively in their match-up zone defense and had at least a small part in Iowa's 4-for-23 performance from long range (0-for-13 in the second half). But this was also just an off shooting night for Iowa, who hadn't experienced one of those yet in the WNIT.

Disterhoft went 2-for-11. Makenzie Meyer, a 40 percent 3-point shooter, made 1 of 5 from long range. Alexa Kastanek missed all three long-ball attempts.

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And Megan Gustafson missed five of 13 shots; she'd missed six shots combined in the previous three games.

"Obviously (poor shooting) hurt us," Bluder said. "But, in saying that, it's been a great year. I'm really, really proud of this team. We lost Tania (Davis), could've buckled then. We have three freshmen in the starting lineup. We could make excuses for everything and these guys never did."

Iowa's Makenzie Meyer grabs a loose ball during the Hawkeyes' WNIT Elite Eight game against Washington State at Carver-Hawkeyes Arena on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

Gustafson finished with her 18th double-double (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Disterhoft scored 16. Kathleen Doyle added 11 points and a career-high eight assists.

Disterhoft and Kastanek checked out of their final game in an Iowa jersey with 12 seconds left. Kastanek cried as she hugged Bluder at the bench; Disterhoft's eyes welled up in the postgame presser.

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"It's tough," said Disterhoft, who ends her college career with 2,102 points. "The program has given me so much these past four years. I've said it before, but these coaches are incredible and the younger girls on this team are going to go on and do some really great things. Lex, Hailey (Schneden) and I were talking about that — that we can't wait to come back and watch them do that.

"I'm always going to be a Hawkeye, though. Whether I'm wearing a jersey or not."

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_.