IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team received an at-large bid to the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, its 27th appearance in the tournament, including its 15th under P. Sue Beckwith, MD, Head Coach Lisa Bluder.
Iowa (18-8) received a No. 5 seed in the River Walk Region and will play 12th-seeded Central Michigan (18-8) on Sunday in San Antonio. It will be the second meeting between the two teams. The first meeting was during the 2010-11 season — Iowa won 90-79. The other two teams in Iowa’s first-weekend bracket include No. 4 Kentucky and 13th-seeded Idaho State.
Information on pre-tournament news conferences and open practice times will be released in the coming days.
The NCAA will allow a limited number of fans at the 2021 Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, starting with the Sweet 16. Hawkeye fans interested in tickets should visit ncaatickets.com.
Iowa has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances under head coach Lisa Bluder. The Hawkeyes likely would have qualified for the 2020 NCAA Tournament if it had not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iowa received votes in the Associated Press or WBCA Coaches Poll every week during the 2020-21 season. In today’s AP Poll, the Hawkeyes received 43 votes.
Iowa won three games over AP or WBCA Coaches Poll Top 25 teams in the regular season, including RV/24 Iowa State, No. 12 Michigan, and No. 19/23 Rutgers.
Guard Caitlin Clark was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. She was an unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection and an unanimous selection for the Big Ten All-Freshman team. Junior Monika Czinano also earned first team All-Big Ten.
Lisa Bluder has guided Iowa to 18 wins or more in 14 consecutive seasons.
Maryland sprinted out to an early 10-2 lead in the first two minutes of the contest, but a 9-2 Iowa run brought the Hawkeyes back to within three at 19-16. The Terrapins closed the first half on another 10-2 spurt to take an 11-point lead after the first 10 minutes.
The Terrapins took an 18-point lead into halftime after forcing seven Iowa turnovers in the second quarter for a 55-37 advantage.
After Maryland made the first bucket of the third quarter for a 21-point lead, Clark inspired a 9-2 Iowa run, scoring seven of the nine points to cut the deficit to 14 points. That would be the closest Iowa could get, as another Maryland run stretched the lead to 22 points at the end of the third quarter and a 25-point final period sealed the title for the Terrapins.
Saturday marked Iowa’s sixth Big Ten Tournament championship game appearance, including its second in three seasons. Bluder has lead Iowa to the championship game five times, with titles in 2001 and 2019.
The Hawkeyes will now wait for the NCAA Division I women’s college basketball tournament selection show, which will air Monday at 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. First round games are scheduled for March 21 and 22. First round games will be played in San Antonio, Austin, and San Marcos, Tex., while the remainder of the championship will be played in San Antonio.
“Maryland is a great team,” Bluder said. “They are a terrific basketball team. I can really see them getting to the Final Four. I hope they do because that bodes well for our conference. We should have eight teams from the Big Ten Conference going to the NCAA Tournament, which is a remarkable amount. I think a lot of teams are going to do very well in the NCAA Tournament and I think we are one of them.”