GREENSBORO, N.C. — Turnovers were mounting, and Iowa’s lead was shrinking.
“Basketball is a game of momentum, and (North Carolina State) had just made their run,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “We just said (during a timeout), ‘Let’s end it here.’”
Alexis Sevillian took it to heart.
“They were swarming their defense around Megan (Gustafson),” Sevillian said. “We were able to find the open person, it happened to be me, and I knocked it down.”
Sevillian hit a key 3-pointer from the right baseline to snuff out the Wolfpack’s rally, and the eighth-ranked Hawkeyes quickly reclaimed their mojo and ran away for a 79-61 NCAA women’s basketball regional-semifinal victory Saturday morning at Greensboro Coliseum.
Tania Davis has been Sevillian’s teammate for years, through the AAU circuit, at Goodrich (Mich.) High School and now at Iowa. She’s seen it before.
“Lex is confident in her shot, so we’re confident in her,” Davis said. “She can hit the big shots. For her to stay ready, that says a lot about her.”
Iowa (29-6) enjoyed a 37-24 halftime lead, but the Wolfpack (28-6) carved it to 43-38 before Sevillian came through.
“We did turn them over a little over a few times, and maybe it took them a minute to adjust,” NC State Coach Wes Moore said. “But (Iowa) shot the heck out of it from 3, and what’s what you’ve got to hope doesn’t happen when you’re playing them, because you’re going to have to give something up.”
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Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle said, “You’ve got to give (Sevillian) a lot of credit. She’s cold-blooded.”
Sevillian’s shot restored order and made it 46-38, then Megan Gustafson scored inside to extend the margin to 10. It was 56-44 by the end of the third quarter, and the Hawkeyes kept building the margin from there. Sevillian struck again to make it 63-46 early in the fourth period.
“I know my role,” Sevillian said. “I’m confident in my role, and I know shooting is one of my strengths.”
Iowa finished 7 of 18 from long range; NC State was 4 of 18.
“We were locked in,” Iowa’s Makenzie Meyer said. “We were so focused. We knew the scouting report, and we were able to defend the arc.”
The Hawkeyes face No. 1 Baylor (34-1) in the regional final at 6 p.m. CT Monday. The winner advances to the Final Four, April 5-7 at Tampa, Fla.
Baylor will be a heavy favorite, but the Hawkeyes are bubbling with confidence.
“We’re 40 minutes away,” Gustafson said.
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