March 18, 2005
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IOWA CITY — Iowa held off two second-half comeback runs to cruise past Creighton, 67-52, Friday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the first round of the Sportsview.tv Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“I think our team showed a lot of character tonight,” Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought the team came out very focused and played very hard. We had a substantial lead, but then they’d cut to within six or seven, but we’d have a 5-0 run. I thought we played a very good defensive game tonight.”
The Hawkeyes (21-9) shut out the Bluejays’ second-leading scorer, Laura Spanheimer, who had been averaging 15 points a game, for just the fourth time in her career.
And Crystal Smith, who had 13 points and four rebounds in the game, capitalized off of five steals to spark the defensive game.
“Obviously (Spanheimer) was a good player and the girl to stop,” Smith said. “Our coach stressed to us that she was good shooting the 3 and that’s what we had to stop. And we had to stop her driving. If you stop those two, that’s how she didn’t score.”
Iowa got off to a 6-0 start but then let Creighton, the defending WNIT champion, get as close as a point before turning in a 15-2 run. The Hawkeyes kept control the rest of the first half and went into a break with a 35-21 lead.
Senior Jamie Cavey led the Hawkeyes’ inside game and recorded 23 points, four rebounds and two steals. She was helped in the posts by Krista VandeVenter who helped out with 10 rebounds.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” Bluejays Coach Jim Flanery said. “Playing from behind is hard to do on the road.”
But Creighton, which ends its season at 19-10, came out of the break with back-to-back layups by Angie Janis en route to a 10-2 run which narrowed the Hawkeye lead to six with 17 minutes to play.
“She had a right to be that (mad). We didn’t come out with the spark that we should have. I think it definitely helped us, and that helped us play the kind of defense that we did.”
Center Jamie Cavey on Coach Lisa Bluder’s second-half pep talk
Kristi Woodard led the Bluejays with 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Janis had 17 points for the game.
Iowa called a timeout during the first comeback spurt, and a very animated Bluder gave her team a pep talk.
“She was pretty mad, I think,” Cavey said. “I mean, sorry, animated.
“She had a right to be that way. We didn’t come out with the spark that we should have,” the center added. “I think it definitely helped us, and that helped us play the kind of defense that we did.”
Bluder, who acknowledged it may have been the most lively she’s been in a while, said the purpose of the early timeout was to “bring the focus back.”
“I felt a letdown and thought that we made some careless turnovers,” the coach said. “Those are just mental focus, and so it was a just a gut check to make sure we still wanted to play basketball for the next 17 minutes.”
The Hawkeyes responded with a 19-7 run which gave themselves a 16-point lead, the largest of the game.
Creighton’s tenacity came back to bite Iowa again, though, and the Bluejays were able to score eight straight points in 1 ½-minutes to cut the Hawkeyes’ lead back to seven with seven minutes to play.
But the Hawkeye defense came through again and kept Creighton scoreless until 38 seconds were on the clock and Ally Thrall came off the bench for her only 3-pointer of the night.
Cavey put in six points and Smith had three in the same stretch. Johanna Solverson also had a jumper and finished with 11 points for the game.
“I thought we battled but we just haven’t been good on the offensive end,” Flanery said. “We didn’t attack their zone very well. It was a combination of us not moving the ball well against their zone and their having easy baskets.”
The Hawkeyes advance to play Nebraska at 7 p.m. on Monday at Lincoln in the second round of the tournament.
“This will be a great opportunity for us to go out and get another big road win,” Smith said. “If we play hard, like we did in this game, it will be another great win.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com