Nov. 22, 2003
IOWA CITY, IA. — Iowa dropped its first KCRG-TV 9 Hawkeye Challenge tournament in six years Saturday as Houston outplayed the Hawkeyes 70-64 inside Carver Hawkeye Arena.
The Lady Cougars mounted an intense scoring attack led by all-American Chandi Jones, who broke 2,000 career points – the third fastest player in NCAA history to reach the mark – by going 10-of-29 from the field and 10-of-12 at the line for 34 points.
Sancho Lyttle, a 6-foot-4 junior from the island of St. Vincent in the British West Indies, went 8-of-13 for 20 points to lead Houston as well.
Houston controlled the pace of the game with a “track meet” mentality, according to coach Joe Curl, an East Sioux City, NE., native.
“We tried to swarm and turn it into a track meet on both ends,” he said. “We tried to make them play quicker than they’re used to playing. But we just happened to be ahead when the buzzer blew.”
Despite not controlling the tempo of the game, Iowa did stay close to the Lady Cougars in a match-up where the lead changed 12 times. But it was perhaps the lack of control that caused the Hawkeyes to turn the ball over 28 times and essentially cede the victory.
“I feel like if we had controlled the turnovers, then we would have controlled this basketball game,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think we panic-passed too many times. And that’s just a matter of being stronger with the basketball. You have to get (Houston) out of the passing lanes and make them commit before you pass.”
“I feel like if we had controlled the turnovers, then we would have controlled this basketball game.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
The Hawkeyes also lost the offensive rebound battle (17-12) and allowed Jones and Lyttle too many looks at the hoop, which were both concerning to Bluder.
“Chandi Jones is a tremendous player, but she shot the ball 29 times,” said Bluder. “She only shot 33 percent. She just had way too many opportunities to shoot the basketball and got to the line way too many times.”
Iowa had 21 fouls and leaders Jamie Cavey, who scored a team-high 18 points, and Jennie Lillis, who scored 14, as well as point guard Lindsay Richards all fouled out of the game.
Indeed, it seemed like the Hawkeyes were facing the same problems as their football team was just a few weeks ago. The penalties were numerous and damaging. In fact, Cavey was taken out of the game at 14:27 in the second half with her fourth foul only to return in the last six minutes.
Bluder said she couldn’t remember a time when three starters had been taken out of the game like they were Saturday night.
“Especially when we played zone (defense) the entire time too, that’s amazing,” the coach said. “You think you protect yourself a little bit from fouls in the zone, so it is pretty amazing.”
Iowa had to rely heavily on its bench through the game, but those players only contributed two points.
“I thought we had the potential to win the game, but it’s not the end of our season. We’re not going to hang our heads down too long because we have another tournament next weekend.”
Senior forward Jennie Lillis
“You want players to come in and step up and do well in those situations,” said Bluder. “Tonight, we didn’t get a lot of production from our bench.
“It is a concern, but you’re going to have games like that especially early on. We still have almost four people in double figures tonight.”
For Lillis, who couldn’t score until the second half, the game came down to valuing the ball.
“I thought we had the potential to win the game, but it’s not the end of our season,” she said. “We’re not going to hang our heads down too long because we have another tournament next weekend.”
Iowa takes second place in its own tournament and levels at 1-1 for the season. Gonzaga defeated Butler and took third place in the Challenge.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com