Feb. 29, 2004
Their coach thought they needed a victory to improve their chances for an invitation to the 2004 NCAA Tournament. So, the Iowa Hawkeyes responded … in a big way.
Coach Lisa Bluder’s squad took their coach’s words to heart and went out and laid a 89-64 thumpin’ on the Fighting Illini of Illinois Sunday in Champaign. The victory was Iowa’s 16th of the regular season – against 11 losses. More importantly, it pushed the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten record to 10-6 – a mark that will do no worse than guarantee Bluder’s Bunch a tie for fourth place in the league and a first-round bye in the 2004 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament to be played next week at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Hawkeyes used a second-half explosion of 54 points to blow out the Illini. The outburst was keyed by improved shooting from the field – Iowa shot 33 percent from the floor during the first half when it built a 35-33 lead. That rate improved to better than 59 percent when the visitors slammed the door on victory.
Bluder’s squad was led in scoring by Kristi Faulker, who pitched in 25 on 10-of-17 shooting, a total that included three baskets from behind the arc. Jennie Lillis added 20 and Jamie Cavey 14. Johanna Solverson paced Iowa on the boards with eight and Lindsay Richards chipped in a game-high four steals.
Iowa was outrebounded by a significant margin – 52-38, but won the game thanks to a 23-12 edge in turnovers and by holding Illinois to just 34 percent shooting from the field – 25 of 73 and just three baskets in 14 tries from behing the arc.
The Hawkeyes scored the first 11 points of the second half, taking a 48-33 lead when Solverson sank a lay-up with 16:14 left to play. Iowa then went on an 8-2 run to stretch its lead to 21 and never looked back – Iowa’s margin eventually reached more than 30 points on several occasions down the stretch.
Iowa will now await the outcome of the Ohio State-Wisconsin game to help determine the seeding for this year’s Big Ten post-season dance in Indy. Those pairings will be announced officially on Monday.