Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs made his mark on Mount Vernon. Many in town made their mark on him, too. Wirfs and his mother, Sarah, took The Gazette on a tour of his hometown, revisiting scenes around what essentially is the one square mile where he grew up. This story is a little about what can hold you back. This is mostly about what moves you forward.

2019 NCAA TOURNAMENT

Iowa's Tania Davis and Kathleen Doyle: Distinct personalities and a common goal

Assist-loving point guards hope to lead Hawkeyes to the Final Four

Iowa guards Tania Davis (11) and Kathleen Doyle (22) talk during a win over Rutgers earlier this season. The point guard duo lead the Hawkeyes into their NCAA women’s basketball regional final Monday against Baylor. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa guards Tania Davis (11) and Kathleen Doyle (22) talk during a win over Rutgers earlier this season. The point guard duo lead the Hawkeyes into their NCAA women’s basketball regional final Monday against Baylor. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One is fire. One is ice.

“We have two different personalities,” Kathleen Doyle said. “(Tania Davis) brings the calm, and I bring the energy.”

They both bring the assists.

Yes, the focal point of Monday’s NCAA women’s basketball regional final — 6 p.m. CT, ESPN2 — is the post battle between Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Hannah Stewart and Baylor’s Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox. But somebody’s got to get them the ball, and somebody’s got to knock down outside shots.

Baylor (34-1) ranks No. 1 in the nation in assists at 22.8 per game. Iowa (29-6) is second at 21.7.

“The truth is, when you play with Megan, you’ve got have that All-American in the post, and you have a shooter in Makenzie (Meyer) and a player in Hannah, it’s not hard to rack up assists,” Davis said.

Iowa had 24 of them in their regional-semifinal win over North Carolina State. That included eight from Doyle, six from Davis.

Doyle, a junior, ranks third in school history with 511 in her career. Davis, a senior who missed a combined 31 games with knee injuries as a sophomore and junior, is fourth with 431.

“It’s really fun to play in a two-point-guard system,” Doyle said. “Coach (Lisa) Bluder said when she was recruiting me that she’d find a way to get us both on the floor.”

Davis needs three points to join Iowa’s 1,000-point club, which currently consists of 35 members. Doyle is 17 points away.

“To get to 1,000, with all the time I missed, that would be awesome,” Davis said. “That, and to be among the leaders in assists — that’s a point guard’s dream.”

So would a win Monday. That would get the Hawkeyes to the Final Four for the first time since 1993.

“It’s hard to wait for the game. You’re just so excited to play,” Doyle said. “I feel people underestimate us. It’s exciting to play No. 1. We’ve got to beat the best.”

And that’s the Lady Bears. They’re itching to tip it up, too.

“We’re ready to get the game started, get the win and get to Tampa,” said Baylor’s DiDi Richards, who scored 25 points in a regional-semifinal win over South Carolina.

Common opponents

Iowa played two Big 12 teams this season, and those are the only two common opponents the Hawkeyes share with Baylor.

The Hawkeyes rallied from a 24-point deficit to defeat West Virginia, 84-81, in the Bahamas on Nov. 23. Baylor defeated the Mountaineers by verdicts of 79-47 and 63-57.

Davis’ late shot gave Iowa a 73-70 win over Iowa State on Dec. 5. The Lady Bears beat the Cyclones three times — 84-69, 73-60 and 67-49. The last of those three games was in the Big 12 tournament final.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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