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Hawks hope to capitalize on home-court advantage Sunday

[ 0 ] March 18, 2013 |

There wasn’t a lot of suspense for the Iowa women’s basketball team on Selection Monday.

The Hawkeyes figured they were firmly inside the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Coaches and players knew if they made it, a home game was a certainty.

But when the Hawkeyes heard the news, it still felt special.

“It never gets old seeing your name go up on the screen,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

The Hawkeye players cheered when it was announced that Iowa (20-12) was given a No.9 seed and will play No.8 seed Miami (21-10) at 6:30p.m. Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We’re just super excited for the opportunity,” senior Jaime Printy said. “With our fans, with how we’ve been playing lately … we have a good shot.”

Bluder has guided Iowa to six straight NCAA Tournaments and has done it 10 times in 13 years with the Hawkeyes.

“That’s why you work hard, why you get in the gym,” Bluder said. “The opportunity to have your name come up there in the highlight show and have the opportunity to play at the highest level for a national championship.”

The other game in Iowa City pits top seed Notre Dame (31-1) against No.16 seed UT-Martin (19-14) at 4p.m. Sunday.

The second-round game between the winners will be played March26.

“If we get past (Miami), it’d be exciting to use our fans to try and get the upset,” senior Morgan Johnson said.

Of course, Miami will have something to say about that.

The Hurricanes have plenty of signature wins, including a 69-65 win at Big Ten champion Penn State on Nov.29 and a home win over No.5 Duke on Feb.28.

Miami finished tied for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Unfortunately, we have to have the mentality of playing on someone’s home court,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “That is just part of the women’s game and driving attendance and peak interest. We’ve done it before and we’re going to have to do it again.

“But this is a seasoned team and we’ve played some great road games. I am expecting Iowa’s best game, and I know they’re going to get ours.”

The Hurricanes are led by senior Morgan Stroman, a first-team All-ACC pick who leads Miami in scoring (12.8 points per game), rebounding (8.8 rpg), steals (1.8 spg) and blocked shots (1.2 bpg).

Iowa, the seventh place team in the Big Ten, was happy to be a ninth seed.

“We thought we’d probably be around a 10,” Bluder said. “We got a higher seed than we thought we were going to get.

“The country and committee probably think higher of us than we do.”

The Hawkeyes got a handful of wins over Top 25 teams. It helped keep them inside the bubble despite having a five-game losing streak in Big Ten play.

“We set our expectations really high at the beginning of the season,” junior Theairra Taylor said. “We went on that five-game losing streak, so to even make the tournament, to come back from that, is a feat.

“We’re happy to be in the tournament. Whoever we’re playing is going to get our best shot.”

SCOUTING MIAMI (FLA.)

RECORD: 21-10 overall, 11-7 in Atlantic Coast Conference (tie, fourth).

QUICK STATS: The Hurricanes have appeared in the NCAA Tournament eight times. Miami is one of five ACC teams to make the 2013 tournament and this is the third year in a row the team has qualified. Miami is ranked second in offensive rebounding due to Morgan Stroman and Shawnice Wilson who are top five in the ACC in reboundsper game. The Hurricanes have a 21-10 overall record and are led offensively Stroman, who is shooting 47 percent from the field. Coached by Katie Meier, the team has won seven of its last 10 games.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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