Notre Dame to face Iowa women on the road
IOWA CITY (AP) — It’s hard not to view Notre Dame’s NCAA tournament draw as the worst among the top seeds.
Instead of playing at home like Baylor, Stanford and Connecticut, Notre Dame was shipped off to Iowa City. On Tuesday night, they’ll face ninth-seeded Iowa in the second round in front of a hostile crowd of as many as 10,000 people.
This would be a much bigger problem if the Fighting Irish weren’t so good on the road.
Notre Dame (32-1) will put its perfect road record on the line against the Hawkeyes (21-12). The Fighting Irish have won at Connecticut, Tennessee and everywhere else in this remarkable season, and they’re confident they can do the same at Iowa.
“I think we’ve been road tested and we’re battle tested,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “We have gone to a lot of tough places on the road. So we know what that’s going to be like.”
What’s made the Fighting Irish perhaps the best team in the country outside of Baylor is their depth. Notre Dame’s ability to overwhelm an opponent was on display in an impressive blowout of Tennessee-Martin on Sunday.
The undersized Skyhawks decided to let tiny guard Heather Butler shoot at will, and the 5-foot-5 Butler exploded for 37 points against the Big East champions.
It hardly made a dent against the Fighting Irish.
Four players scored in double figures, led by Jewell Loyd’s 27 points and Kayla McBride’s 22 points and 10 rebounds, as Notre Dame cruised to a 97-64 victory.
“Offensively, we were on. We shot the ball extremely well. Eight turnovers in the game, and you know, I thought it was a very good game considering we had not played since, I think 11 days since our last game,” McGraw said. “I thought we would be a little rusty but we really came out and looked sharp.”
Few expect the inconsistent Hawkeyes to beat Notre Dame, despite their home court advantage.
But Iowa has shown it could make things tough on the Fighting Irish.
The Hawkeyes have been an enigma all season — but they’re tough to beat when they’re on.
Iowa went just 8-8 in the Big Ten season, included five straight losses from late January until mid-February. But the Hawkeyes are also 7-3 against opponents who were ranked when they played them, including West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas and Purdue.
“I just think we have the ability to turn it on when we are playing good teams,” Iowa senior center Morgan Johnson said. “We normally play to the level of competition.”