Feb 19, 2004
IOWA CITY, IA. —Iowa extended its winning streak to three games on Thursday night by defeating 11th-rated Minnesota 81-61 before a crowd of 3,427 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Senior guard Kristi Faulkner scored a game-high 22 points and senior forward Jennie Lillis scored 16 while junior center Jamie Cavey added 15 to lead the Hawks. But for Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, the game was more about the defensive intensity that took Minnesota out the game from the start.
“I thought that our intensity was very good to start the game,” she said. “I thought our defensive intensity set the tone, Crystal (Smith) coming in and having five steals, I thought, was a very key point.”
The Hawkeyes held Minnesota to 44.7 percent from the field and forced 23 turnovers. Iowa had 12 steals and four blocks in the game.
“I just thought their defense was a whole turning point,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “I don’t think we handled it very well, and we didn’t get to do what we wanted to do offensively. We fell apart on both ends the first half, and we dug ourselves a hole.”
“(The win) was big for us, especially with conference standings,” said Lillis, who had a game-high nine rebounds and four blocks. “It’s coming down and we have three games left and we really want to get to the tournament, so this is a big win for us in that sense.”
Iowa opened the first half in dramatic fashion, while Minnesota barely looked like the team that defeated the Hawkeyes 75-61 last month. The Golden Gophers are down all-time leading scorer Lindsay Whalen, who averaged 20.7 points per game, with broken bones in her shooting wrist.
“I thought that our intensity was very good to start the game. I thought our defensive intensity set the tone, Crystal (Smith) coming in and having five steals, I thought, was a very key point.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Cavey scored Iowa’s first five points, while Faulkner got her jumper started quickly and added the next five. Both had three-point plays by drawing big fouls off of Janel McCarville and Kelly Roysland, the Golden Gophers only scorers through the first 15 minutes of the game.
That start opened a 15-point run for the Hawkeyes, as they held the Golden Gophers scoreless for over five minutes. Sophomore Crystal Smith had four points, two steals and caused an over-and-back violation against Minnesota in the stretch.
Iowa’s first serious miscue of the match came at 12:47 in the first when they ceded the run and gave McCarville two free throws. McCarville added six more points over the course of the half, but she couldn’t stop the Hawk-attack. McCarville went 4-of-5 from the field for a team-high 10 points in the first half.
For the game, McCarville had a team-high 12 points, going 5-of-8 from the field before fouling out with 10:20 to play in the second half. Jamie Broback added 10 points for Minnesota, while Roysland finished with just six.
If post play and jumpers were Iowa’s standards to gain the lead, it made its mark with 3-pointers in its next run as the Gophers experimented with a zone defense. Faulkner started with a 3-pointer at 10:14, then Johanna Solverson and Lillis had back-to-back 3s to stretch Iowa’s lead to 19. Tiffany Reedy and Faulkner both added triples, and Reedy had a layup to give the Hawkeyes their largest lead of the half, 40-18.
Faulkner had a team-high 13 points in the first, while Reedy (3-of-4 from the field) and Cavey each had seven. Smith closed the active 20 minutes with four.
But Minnesota forwards Broback and Kadidja Andersson helped close the gap with five points and four points respectively. Andersson finished with eight points, going 4-of-6 from the field, for the game.
Iowa held a 40-22 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, the Gophers got out to a better start and chipped Iowa’s lead down to 14 with a jumper by Andersson with about 15 minutes left to play. But that was the last time Minnesota was to make an offensive score for four minutes, as the Gophers could only make 4-of-5 at the line to barely keep the matchup within 20 points.
Iowa, on the other hand, succeeded with more conservative play, but without losing any of its energy. Layups became the norm the Hawkeyes in the second half in large response to the strengthened man defense by the Gophers.
The pedestrian second half was highlighted by the Hawkeyes gaining a lead as much as 25 points with under five minutes remaining. But Iowa never let Minnesota back into contention.
“I thought the defense was the factor in the game,” Bluder reiterated.
But the players wouldn’t comment on what exactly shut the Golden Gophers down and caused such a massive turnaround between the games.
“We played them a while ago, and since then I think our whole team’s confidence has grown,” contributed Lindsay Richards, the point guard.
“I think we came out with a different defensive tenacity tonight,” Lillis added. “I thought we came out and played well from the beginning and it kind of fed the whole game through.”
Gophers Shannon Schonrock and Andersson agreed with their adversary.
“We talk about throwing the first punch, and they did that tonight,” said Andersson. “We weren’t expecting that, but we still have to believe that we can win.”
Minnesota (19-5, 8-5) will host Northwestern on Sunday, while Iowa (15-9, 9-4) will go on to host seventh-ranked Penn State on Sunday. Last month, the Hawkeyes dropped a 92-64 decision at State College.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com