27 victories, then a quiet exit

Iowa women's basketball: Despite a hollow finish, the Hawkeyes exceeded expectations in 2013-14

Jeff Linder
Published: March 26 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:10 am in

IOWA CITY -- In a tear-stained locker room, Samantha Logic found perspective.

"Absolutely, this was a great season," said the University of Iowa point guard after the 25th-ranked Hawkeyes' bowed out, 83-53, to No. 4 Louisville late Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "Hands down, great season.

"People counted us out. We talked about it all season. We lost Jaime (Printy) and Morgan (Johnson, to graduation). But this was the epitome of a team. We wanted to play for each other and win for each other."

Iowa retired at 27-9. It was the most wins since 1996, the year that still marks the Hawkeyes' most recent march to the Sweet Sixteen.

"I couldn't have asked for a better (freshman) season," said Ally Disterhoft, who scored in double digits in 16 of 17 games after replacing Kali Peschel in the starting lineup. "These girls were my sisters, like my family."

Most of the family will return for 2014-15. There's only one senior -- Theairra Taylor.

It's not a small loss.

"People outside the program, people who don't know basketball so well, they recognize Thea as an inspiration," Logic said. "And she is an inspiration. But she's also a stud basketball player, and we're going to miss her a lot."

Taylor suffered three ACL injuries, one in high school and two at Iowa. Coach Lisa Bluder struggled to quantify her impact.

"I really couldn't (talk about it) when she was in here (before Taylor was dismissed from Tuesday's postgame press conference)," Bluder said. "But the team loves her. We wanted this for her really badly."

All five starters averaged in double figures this season. That's an impressive feat, but it masks a lack of depth.

Louisville outscored the Hawkeyes in bench points, 24-2.

Help is on the way, a strong recruiting class of four. Whitney Jennings and Chase Coley were Gatorade players of the year for Indiana and Minnesota, respectively.

Even without Taylor, the talent level will be better and deeper in 2014-15. If the chemistry matches that of this year's tight-knit group, next year could be the year the Hawkeyes break down the door of the Sweet Sixteen.

"There will definitely be a lot of expectations," said Melissa Dixon, who -- along with Logic, Disterhoft and Bethany Doolittle -- will form the nucleus next season. "We proved a lot this year. We showed at times that we could play with anybody."

Tuesday, though, was not one of those times.

"We're better than we showed tonight," Dixon said.

"It's something we'll think about for a long time," Bluder said.

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