Dec. 10, 2004
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OMAHA, Neb. — Forget about what happened in the first 27 minutes of the Iowa women’s basketball team’s first true road game of the 2004-05 season Friday night at Creighton.
It’s what happened in the final 13 minutes of regulation and Iowa’s first overtime session of the season that’s important because that’s when Coach Lisa Bluder’s squad went from being left for dead and handed its first loss of the season to registering victory No. 8, a thrilling 91-82 victory over the Bluejays.
Iowa’s eight straight wins to open the 2004-05 season is the best start for the Hawkeyes since the 1993 season.
The home team took its largest lead of the game, 15 points, when Ally Thrall sank three free throws at the 13:19 mark of the second half. Iowa responded by going on a 28-12 run over the next nine minutes to take a 71-70 lead.
Leading the charge for the Hawkeyes was Crystal Smith, who scored seven of her team-high 23 points during the run. Iowa also got six points from Krista VandeVenter and four points and a handful of rebounds from Jamie Cavey.
The lead changed hands three times and there were three ties in the final four minutes. The last tie came after Smith gave Iowa a 77-75 lead on a lay-up with 41 seconds to play. Creighton’s Laura Spanheimer made a pair of free throws with 25 ticks left to play to send the game into overtime.
Johanna Solverson had two opportunities to give Iowa the victory in regulation, but both rimmed out.It really didn’t matter, though.
Supercharged by their comeback, the Hawkeyes outscored Creighton 11-5 in the first three minutes of overtime thanks to six points by Solverson. Iowa successfully snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
“This was another great win for our baskeball team,” Bluder said shortly after Iowa matched its best start since going 8-0 at the front end of the 1993 season.
“Creighton is an excellent basketball team, but even when we were down, we never gave up. Our players left everything on the floor tonight. They refused to lose,” she said.
Iowa socred a season-high 91 points, 58 of which coming in the paint where Iowa claimed a slim 42-37 edge on the glass thanks to huge nights by VandeVenter and Cavey, who took down a career-high 14 and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Smith was her usual self: nine field goals in 12 attempts, a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe, three rebounds and five assists.
“Another outstanding game. She not only scored for us, but she came up big defensively time and time again,” said Bluder of her prized point guard.
Smith was one of four Hawkeyes to score in double-figures. Cavey added 20, VandeVenter a career-high 19, and Solverson 13 for the victors, who shot a blistering 70 percent from the field in the second half and 83 percent – five of six – in overtime.
Cavey also had a career-high seven asissts.
And, while her line in the box score was rather conservative — five points, a block and a steal — Bluder said the presence of Jenee Graham on the floor for the Hawkeyes was huge. “I think the game changed when she entered the game. She was a difference-maker,” Iowa’s head coach said.
Iowa’s defense, meanwhile, got more gritty as the game progressed. Creighton shot 47 percent from the field in the first half, 32 percent in the second half and only 25 percent in the extra period.
The defense was necessary, too. Iowa trailed for the first time this season at halftime, 44-31.
The victory snapped Iowa three-game losing streak to Creighton and pushed the Hawkeyes’ record against Missouri Valley Conference opponents to 2-0 in 2004-05.
Bluder’s Bunch now breaks for final exams. The Hawkeyes’ next game is Saturday, Dec. 18, at intrastate rival Drake.