Dec. 1, 2004
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IOWA CITY, IA. — After losing by seven points in double overtime last year in Ames, the Iowa women’s basketball team must have resolved not to let this year’s matchup against ISU even get close.
And it worked – to a point.
The Hawkeyes handed the Cyclones their first loss of the season, 89-80, on Wednesday night in the third event of the inaugural Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series before 4,211 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (5-0) now leads the series for intrastate bragging rights 5-2.
“This is a great win for our program,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “You step out on the floor and try to prepare your players, but you don’t know what’s going to happen because they haven’t been through it.
“To have this young of a team and be 5-0, I think, they’ve done just a tremendous job.”
The Hawkeyes went on an 8-minute, 26-2 run midway through the first half sparked by sharp shooting by junior Crystal Smith, who went 5 of 9 for 11 points in the first half.
Smith finished at 7 of 15 for 17 points in the game. The guard had a career-high eight rebounds and eight assists. Center Jamie Cavey led the team with a game-high 19 points and seven rebounds.
“I thought Crystal Smith, again, was just tremendous out on the floor,” Bluder said. “That’s a pretty nice game. I’m really excited about the way Crystal’s playing. I think she’s an exciting player to watch.”
Smith also drew the praise of Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly.
“The thing I like about Crystal Smith is that she can impact the game at both ends of the court,” he said. “There are great players who can score and there are great players who can defend, and she does both.
“She scores, she defends, and she steals the ball and makes assists. She set the tone right out of the gate.”
Smith guarded the Cyclones’ leading scorer, Anne O’Neil, and kept her to 6 of 19. Smith also nabbed four steals.
“I was just doing what my coach told me to do,” the 5-foot-6 Smith said. “Anne O’Neil is a great player, and my coach told me to dog her and see if I couldn’t get a few steals, and I had a good game.”
Iowa’s player defense stifled Iowa State (3-1), keeping it to 30 percent from the field in the first half and 40 percent for the game.
The Cyclones tried to stop the hemorrhaging during the run with two timeouts and eight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, by O’Neill, but ISU couldn’t break free from Iowa’s stranglehold.
“I don’t think they looked at the scoreboard,” Fennelly said of the Iowa players. “They just kept playing and got the lead bigger and bigger, and at halftime we’re down 19 and we were thinking about what we were going to do.”
In the second half, the Hawkeyes got out to as much as a 28-point lead before the Cyclones tried to get back into the game with a 15-2 run three-quarters of the way through.
Despite hitting just two shots in the first half, Mary Fox put together 10 in a four-minute stretch to cut the Hawkeye lead to 12 with just under three minutes left to play.
“I’m very proud of the effort of our team in the second half,” Fennelly said. “We were a very good team down 25 points. People of less character or less commitment would roll over and play dead and let Iowa pummel them, but I was very proud of how we finished.
“The challenge for us now is to be that kind of team for a 40-minute period and not a 5-minute period.”
In the last five minutes of play, Iowa State nailed five uncontested 3s – its only five of the second half.
“We did not want to give up the open 3s, and we really respect the way they were shooting the ball from the perimeter,” Bluder said. “We talked about how one of our keys was to take away the 3, and we did a decent job with that, but again too many open ones when we lost our focus in the second half.”
“We’re getting a lot of contribution from our bench, and I love the balanced scoring.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Bluder said her team’s youth was the cause of the defensive breakdown.
“We let up too many points in the game, but we took the game away in the first half especially in the first 30 minutes,” she said. “We build a 25-point lead but with Iowa State it’s never enough because they’re so explosive offensively.
“They learned a lesson today. I know that they did, and I’m sure it won’t happen again. To maintain that significant of a lead for that amount of time, I think with a team it’s hard to do.”
Both Iowa and Iowa State had five players in double figures for the game, but the Hawkeyes got 28 points off their bench compared to 19 from the Cyclones’.
Senior reserve guard Jenna Armstrong had a career-high 15 points for the game, including a 3-pointer at 4:40 which helped break up the late Iowa State surge.
“I think the reason I made it was because I wasn’t even thinking about it,” she said. “Obviously, I had a lot of open shots and I just kept shooting them.”
Bluder was pleased with the balanced scoring.
“We’re getting a lot of contribution from our bench,” Bluder said, “and I love the balanced scoring.”
Iowa hosts Northern Iowa on Sunday.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com