Defense lifts Hawks over Badgers, 66-46

Jan. 18, 2004

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IOWA CITY, IA. — Coach Lisa Bluder has been stressing defense in practices this past week and her team responded to the message. Iowa held Wisconsin to under 30 percent from the field on Sunday, as the Hawks defeated the Badgers, 66-46, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We really tried to focus on defense this week,” Bluder said. “I think we had two very good defensive efforts to hold them to 12 points below their average. I was very happy with our defense.”

Iowa kept Wisconsin scoreless through the first 8 ? minutes of the game, while the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 10-0 lead.

With strong shooting from seniors Jennie Lillis and Kristi Faulkner, Iowa held a 14-point advantage at the half, while the Badgers consistently were struggling for points. In the first half, Wisconsin hit only nine of 33 attempts from the field.

But a low shooting percentage was something the Hawkeyes had to contest with as well. Junior center Jamie Cavey had the best average of any starter, hitting 5-of-10 from the field, before fouling out with 2:08 remaining in the second half.

“We didn’t score at a percentage that we’d like to score at, but I think you should give credit to Wisconsin,” said Bluder. “They did a good job of blocking shots early and making us change the way we like to shoot the basketball.

“Wisconsin did a nice job of using their height to change things a little bit.”

Notwithstanding a 37.7 percentage from the field, Iowa’s production was more than sufficient. Lillis had 21 points, Cavey put in 14 and Faulkner added 12. Wisconsin’s top shooter was Stephanie Rich, a guard originally from Crawfordsville, IA., with 14.

For the game, the Badgers could only muster 27.4 percent from the field against a much stronger Iowa defense, which held Wisconsin’s point total to a season-low 46, due in no small part to a season-high eight blocks in the game.

“We knew what we had to do,” sophomore forward Johanna Solverson said. “We went out and just got in their passing lanes. We were more on them than normal and not letting them get comfortable with the ball.”

Solverson nabbed half of Iowa’s eight blocks, while grabbing 10 boards and making six assists in her first game back as a starter since the Hawkeyes played UNI on Dec. 8. The 6-foot-2, Lake Zurich, IL.-native broke a 34-game starting streak with an injured left ankle.

But despite a rather triumphant return to the starting line-up, Solverson wasn’t too concerned about getting her spot back from Tiffany Reedy.

“I just tried to slow it down and be a lot smarter. I just felt that I was in the game for all the minutes that I was in.”
Sophomore forward Johanna Solverson

“I didn’t really care,” she said. “Last year, it probably would have meant more. I don’t mind Tiffany starting, we’re team-mates and that’s how it goes.

“I just tried to slow it down and be a lot smarter. I just felt that I was in the game for all the minutes that I was in.”

“I thought Jo did a nice job with the boards and the assists,” said Bluder. “There are a lot of ways to bring value to a team, and I thought Jo was concentrating on playing a lot better defense.”

Bluder said that exchanging Solverson for Reedy in the line-up wasn’t a scientifically calculated decision, but was merely “something new.”

“It was kind of a gut feeling,” she said. “It wasn’t that Jo was doing something and Tiffany wasn’t doing something. They’re both really competing for that spot.”

Iowa (9-7 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) has a week off before finishing the current three-game home stretch against Michigan next Sunday at 2 o’clock. With the win over Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes have built their first winning record in the league since conference play started Jan. 2.

“I do think we’re taking a lot of pride playing at home,” said Lillis, who said she hoped the win started a streak for the Hawks. “We definitely need to keep that going, but we need to get some away as well.

“We just need to keep the defensive intensity up, because that takes you more than anything else does.”

Barry Pump,