Smith, Cavey Propel Bluder's Squad


March 3, 2005

Stats | Notes

One down…

Iowa’s streaking women’s basketball team registered its fourth straight victory Thursday, a 70-42 win over Michigan in first-round action of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Hawkeyes improved their 2004-05 record 20-8 and, most likely, secured a place in the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament as, at a minimum, a recipient of an at-large invitation to the post-season party. “I think that we’re in the NCAAs. I believe that with all my heart. I believe that what we’re playing for now is a higher seed,” Bluders said after her team’s victory.

Three to go…

However, Bluder’s Bunch probably has its sights set higher as far at the success in this weekend’s party in Indianapolis. Higher as in the Big Ten Tournament champion and the recipient of the league’s automatic berth. It won’t come easy. Iowa, the No. 6 seed in this year’s Big Ten Tournament, will now play No. 3 seed Penn State in a quarterfinal game slated for 7:30 p.m. Iowa time Friday.

The Nittany Lions handed Iowa its first loss of the 2004-05 season, a 77-71 defeat on Jan. 6 in Iowa City. Iowa entered that contest sporting a 13-game winning streak, but could never recover from a 20-point first-half deficit.

Nationally ranked Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue also stand in the way of the Hawkeyes. Those are three teams, however, Iowa played toe-to-toe with during the recently-completed regular season.

One game at a time…

The Hawkeyes rode the horses that have led Iowa’s charge from the start of the 2004-05 campaign – junior guard Crystal Smith and senior center Jamie Cavey – to their 11th all-time victory in Big Ten Tournament action. Smith scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field – a mark that included a career-high four three-point buckets in eight tries – four steals and four rebounds. Cavey scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds.

Abby Emmert added six points and Jenna Armstrong and Krista VandeVenter five each. Johanna Solverson paced Iowa with seven rebounds.

BreAnne McPhilamy paced Michigan with 12 points. Tabitha Pool grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

Iowa shot 51 percent from the field for the game, hitting 25 of 49 field goal attempts including six three-pointers. The Hawkeyes limited Michigan to just 33 percent success from the field and allowed the Wolverines only four attempts from the charity stripe.

Iowa outrebounded Michigan, 33-27.

Michigan trimmed Iowa’s lead to nine at 35-26 when Ta’shia Walker sank a pair of free throws at 14:47. Iowa responded with an 8-2 run sparked by a pair of three-point buckets by Smith to push margin to 43-28.

Nine minutes later – a period marred by fouls and sloppy play on both ends of the court – Iowa held a 18-point advantage at 57-39 thanks to nine straight points by Smith. Iowa rolled from there and closed the door by scoring the game’s last eight points.

Iowa shot a blistering 65 percent from the field in the second half while totally shutting down the Wolverine offense.

Iowa took a 31-20 lead into the lockerroom at intermission thanks to a lay-up with five seconds left to play in the stanza by Krista VandeVenter.

The Hawkeyes used an 11-2 run sparked by points from a variety of Hawkeyes midway through the first half to take control of the game at 21-13. Cavey gave Iowa its largest lead at 29-17 with three straight buckets, the last coming on a jump shot with just more than two minutes to play.

Cavey paced Iowa with nine first-half points. Smith added eight and VandeVenter five. Iowa played strong on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 12 Michigan turnovers that the Hawkeyes turned into 13 points.

Illinois routed Northwestern and Wisconsin edged Indiana in double-overtime in the other two first round games played Thursday at Conseco Fiedhouse.