Iowa women, on home court, hold off American 75-67

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa survived American’s spirited upset bid while learning a valuable lesson. Almost everyone is a handful in March.

Ally Disterhoft scored 18 points, freshman Whitney Jennings had 16 and third-seeded Iowa held off American 75-67 Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Iowa City.

Melissa Dixon had 15 points with four 3s for the Hawkeyes (25-7), who will host 11th-seeded Miami in the second round on Sunday.

”I don’t think anything they did surprised us. They probably hit a couple of more 3s than we thought. Credit to them. They’re a good shooting team, but we gutted it out,” said Iowa’s Samantha Logic, who nearly posted the 14th triple-double in NCAA Tournament history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. ”We’re going to take everyone’s best shot in this tournament, and we’ll take any kind of win right now.”

It wasn’t easy for Iowa though.

The Patriot League champions had the game tied at 36-all at halftime, and the Hawkeyes needed a 15-6 run after the break to start feeling comfortable.

American rallied within 69-64 with 2:47 left, but couldn’t get any closer.

Jen Dumiak had a game-high 23 points with nine assists for the Eagles (24-9), who were making their NCAA Tournament debut.

”If you had told me we’d shoot 44 percent from (two-point range), 43 percent from 3 (and) 89 percent from the line and lose, I would have been totally shocked. Iowa is a terrific team. They just shot better than we did,” American coach Megan Gebbia said.

Before the season, the Hawkeyes set a goal to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, which this season went to the top 16 teams in the field.

Iowa was rewarded with a boisterous crowd – and an opponent that wasn’t intimidated in the least.

American junior Ari Booth, who came in averaging just 4.4 points, hit four 3s off the bench in the first 15 minutes to help the Eagles go ahead by as much as 34-30.

”She really kept them in the game,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ”I’ll take credit in the first half for letting her loose. I didn’t have them prepared for that.”

Iowa responded with a pair of 3s from Dixon and another from Disterhoft to go ahead 51-42.

Disterhoft then hit another 3, this time from the corner, to give Iowa a 60-50 lead with about 10 minutes left.

But the Eagles were intent on making the most of their NCAA debut.

Booth had a good look at a 3 that would have made it a two-point game with a minute left, but it clanked off the back rim. Jennings was then fouled a second before the shot clock buzzer went off, and her two free throws made it 71-64 with 40 seconds left.

Arron Zimmerman had 17 points and went 5 of 9 from 3-point range for American.

The Eagles might have pulled off the upset had Iowa not shot 9 of 16 from behind the arc.

TIP-INS

Iowa: The Hawkeyes got beat by American on the boards 32-26. Iowa shot 49 percent from the floor and forced 14 turnovers.

American: The Eagles’ had their winning streak snapped at 11 games. Booth’s 17 points were a career high. American committed 14 turnovers and got just eight attempts from the free-throw line.

QUOTABLE

”It was tough getting shots against their zone. They’re long, longer than most teams we faced this year. We were just looking for an open a shot, a bucket. We just wanted a score really. They didn’t fall and they were critical possessions,” Dumiak said about American’s misses down the stretch.

UP NEXT

Iowa: The Hawkeyes host Miami on Sunday after the Hurricanes reached the second round with an 86-80 upset of No. 6 Washington on Friday.

American: Season over.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP