Iowa did a lot of good things this season — and the future looks promising for the Hawkeyes.
But a 30-point home loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament will put a damper on the program's outlook heading into the offseason.
Shoni Schimmel had 26 points, seven assists and five steals to help Louisville thump host Iowa 83-53 on Tuesday night to earn a fifth trip to the Sweet Sixteen under coach Jeff Walz.
Antonita Slaughter added 17 points on five 3s for the third-seeded Cardinals (32-4), who advanced to Sunday's regional semifinal at home against No. 7 seed LSU.
"They came out and played very well, especially defensively. They made us struggle offensively," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "They only scored four points over their average, but it was their defense that took us out of our game."
Louisville jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead and stretched its edge to 47-23 just 90 seconds into the second half. The Cardinals shot 53 percent, forced 19 turnovers and led by as many as 38 points.
Freshman Ally Disterhoft had 15 points for Iowa (27-9), which finished just 1 of 16 from 3-point range. Samantha Logic had 12 points for Iowa, but she also turned it over nine times.
"We knew they were going to have pressure. We knew they were going to have some traps, different defenses. It wasn't anything we weren't expecting. We just really didn't execute," Logic said.
From the opening tip, Louisville looked determined to prove it should be talked about more for its national title chances than its seemingly low seed.
The Cardinals showed in the opening minutes of the second half why they're such a legitimate threat to make it to Nashville, quickly extinguishing Iowa's hopes for a comeback.
Schimmel hit a 3 and a layup to push the lead to 24, then confidently drilled a step-back 3 to give Louisville a 52-25 lead.
While West Virginia and LSU were engaged in a back-and-forth struggle in Morgantown for a spot opposite the Cardinals in Louisville, Walz's team was up 28 and playfully dancing to the "Cha Cha Slide" during an officials' timeout.
Slaughter's back-to-back 3s then made it 69-33 — a stunningly lopsided score against an Iowa team that had walloped Marist by 22 points on Sunday.
But the buckets came early and often for Louisville.
The Cardinals hit eight of their first 10 shots, and Schimmel followed Theairra Taylor's miss of a breakaway layup with a jumper that gave Louisville a 23-12 lead.
Louisville certainly had some issues in the first half, committing 12 fouls and nine turnovers. But Iowa simply couldn't take advantage of any Cardinals miscues, and Slaughter's long 3 put Louisville ahead 33-19.
The first half couldn't have ended more poorly for the Hawkeyes. Jude Schimmel banked in a 3, Disterhoft was called for a charge and Tia Gibbs beat the buzzer with a baseline jumper to give the Cardinals a 40-23 lead.
Gibbs, Asia Taylor and Jude Schimmel each had 10 points for Louisville, which shot 64 percent in the first half.
"We just got out of our offense. We didn't execute. We did in the first four minutes and after that we didn't score enough. We didn't shoot the ball very well. I thought we had a lot of open threes that we just didn't put down," Logic said.
The Hawkeyes won the second-most games in school history this season. They also lose just one senior, guard Theairra Taylor, and should be among the top contenders in the Big Ten next season.
But it was tough for Iowa to look at things that way after such a disappointing performance in their final game of the year.
"Our team didn't make Iowa proud tonight. That's something we're probably going to think about for a long time," Bluder said.