Heartbreak in Indy

March 4, 2005

Final Stats

A second here.

A second there.

Perhaps that’s all the Iowa Hawkeyes would have needed to knock off No. 3 seed and nationally ranked Penn State Friday in second-round action of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Instead, Lisa Bluder’s squad watched its double-digit lead slowly evaporate and the Nittany Lions limp away with a hard-fought 68-66 victory.

The loss ended the Hawkeyes’ 2004-05 regular season at 20-9. Bluder Bunch will now huddle a week from Sunday – Selection Sunday, Mar. 13 – to learn where they will play their first game in the 2005 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

Iowa will now wait for NCAA Selection Sunday — Sunday, March 13 — to learn where it will play its first round game in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Hawkeyes were clinging to a one-point lead at 59-58 with just under four minutes to play when Crystal Smith was called for a five-second violation on an in-bounds play in which many thought Iowa’s junior guard had successfully requested a timeout. Penn State’s Tanisha Wright gave Penn State its first lead of the second half seconds later with a layup at the 3:11 mark. That bucket capped a 12-3 run by the Nittany Lions.

Iowa’s Jamie Cavey knotted the game at 60-all with a free throw, but Wright pushed PSU up by two with a jumper with 2:08 left to play. The Nittany Lions stretched their lead to 64-60 when Ashli Schwab put back a missed layup by Wright at the 1:33 mark.

Cavey took a beautiful feed from Jenna Armstrong to pull the Hawkeyes to within two before Wright knocked down a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left to play.

Smith took the ensuing inbounds pass coast-to-coast to pull Iowa to with a bucket at 66-64. Smith then fouled PSU’s Jess Strom on the next possession and the Nittany Lion made the pair.

Smith countered with another layup to cut the margin to two. Penn State opened the door for the Hawkeyes with an errant pass with two seconds left to play, but the Hawkeyes were out of timeouts and were only able to muster a shot by Smith from halfcourt when the buzzer sounded.

“If the game would have ended four minutes sooner, I would be a much happier person right now. Unfortunately we didn’t come out on the winning side on this one,” said Bluder afterward.

“I am proud of our effort, and I am extremely proud of the toughness our kids showed out there. I thought they battled through a lot,” she continued. “We shot the ball well, but we didn’t box out and gave up too many second chances. We turned the ball over too many times and that was a big difference in the game”

Iowa was hoping to avenge an early season loss to the Nittany Lions in Iowa City with a win in Indy. The Hawkeyes shot well enough to win – 53 percent – and defended the shot well enough to win – they limited Penn State to just 37 percent from the field.

However, as Bluder noted, her squad was outrebounded 40-26 and allowed Penn State 18 offensive rebounds while grabbing only two themselves. That difference resulted in the Nittany Lions having 23 more field goal attempts than the Hawkeyes. Iowa also committed 20 turnovers.

“If the game would have ended four minutes sooner, I would be a much happier person right now. Unfortunately we didn’t come out on the winning side on this one.

“I am proud of our effort, and I am extremely proud of the toughness our kids showed out there. I thought they battled through a lot.”

UI Coach Lisa Bluder

Iowa also didn’t get any points from its bench while Penn State collected 13. The Hawkeye starters, however, were up to the challenge. Cavey scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed six rebounds while blocking four shots. Iowa’s senior center never left the court, logging 40 minutes of hard-fought playing time.

“I personally felt that I played horribly the first time we played Penn State, and I don’t think our team played well as a whole,” Cavey said. “I think the entire team and myself took it upon ourselves to push ourselves and show them that we are an awesome team. I believe we are a very good team, and it just didn’t end the way we wanted it to today.”

Johanna Solverson scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed four rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Smith scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds, and had six steals in 38 minutes of playing time.

Krista VandeVenter played 36 minutes, grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot. Jenna Armstrong scored six points in 32 minutes.

The Nittany Lions were almost as Herculean and were successful in their efforts to overcome a strong defensive effort by Iowa. Jess Strom played 40 mintues and needed 21 field goal attempts to get her 21 points.

Wright played 38 minutes and likewise needed 21 shot attempts to get her 17 points. Schwab secured the game’s only double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points in 26 minutes of action.

The first half see-sawed with the teams trading baskets and leads. Iowa finally got the upperhand at 32-31 when Solverson put in a layup with just under two minutes to play. She gave Iowa its halftime lead of 34-31 with another layup off an assist from Smith with 26 seconds left on the clock.

Solverson provided the Hawkeyes a 45-37 margin when she sank a three-point bucket at the 15:46 mark of the second half. Smith pushed the margin to double-digits a minute later with a jumper.

Penn State started to chip away at the Hawkeyes’ lead, however, closing it to five at 57-52 when Jennifer Harris sank a lay-up at the 6:43 mark.