March 24, 2005
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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA — Despite being down by as much as 14 points in the first half, Iowa rallied in the second to down Arkansas State 66-52 in Thursday night’s quarterfinal round of the Sportsview.tv WNIT before 4,797 fans inside the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It was the tale of two halves,” Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder said. “In the first half we couldn’t shoot, and in the second half they couldn’t shoot.”
“I think many people are still trying to figure out why they’re not in the NCAA Tournament,” Arkansas State Coach Brian Boyer said of Iowa. “I think they’re out to prove something here in the WNIT and continue to advance.”
The Lady Indians put on a blistering first half performance, shooting 16 of 29 from the field (55 percent), and going inside to 6-foot-3 center Adrianne Davie who had 11 points.
After Iowa tied it for the sixth time on a pair of free throws by Krista VandeVenter with 9:43 on the clock, Arkansas State scored 10 unanswered points in 3 ½ minutes on an 18-4 run to get out to a 14-point lead with four minutes to play.
The run was capped off by a four-point play by Ali Carter, who nailed a 3-pointer and then got hit by Iowa’s Jeneé Graham after the play for a trip to the charity stripe.
“It was looking pretty bleak at that point,” Bluder said. “In the first half, it was a pretty physical basketball game and our players were playing pretty hyper offensively and I think we calmed down a bit in the second half. I think that made a big difference.”
The biggest competition was between Davie and Iowa’s 6-3 center Jamie Cavey in the paint.
“It definitely got physical,” Cavey said. “She’s a great post and I knew going into it that she was a great post. But I love playing against good posts. It makes you that much better of a player when you go against somebody that good.”
But Iowa (23-9) responded with a 13-2 run over the next three minutes, while ASU went without a field goal in the same stretch. Cavey had four of her 10 first-half points in the stretch.
For the game, Cavey went 6 of 12 a game-high 20 points. Davie managed just three more points in the second half and finished with 13.
Johanna Solverson scored her only three points in the half during the run after she grabbed a steal from an inbounds pass and then picked up the foul.
The Hawkeyes cut the Lady Indians’ lead to three on a 3-pointer by Jenna Armstrong with a minute on the clock, but Zeneta Lane got back-to-back layups to close the half with a 39-32 lead for ASU.
Iowa shot 12 of 31 in the first half and 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
“What we told our team at halftime is that they’re going to fall,” Bluder said. “You just have to keep shooting and crashing to get those second shot opportunities. They had to realize that they will fall if you just keep shooting the ball.”
“In the first half, it was a pretty physical basketball game and our players were playing pretty hyper offensively and I think we calmed down a bit in the second half. I think that made a big difference.”
Head Coach Lisa Bluder
The other adjustment the Hawkeyes made was moving to a 2-3 zone to cut down Arkansas State’s ability to go inside to Davie.
The change up worked and created a combination from which the Lady Indians were not going to rebound. Arkansas State ended its season with a 21-11 record.
“I think in the first half part of the reason they killed us so much is that we were in man-to-man the whole time. They were doing everything,” Cavey said. “But when we were in the zone their cuts and their screens really didn’t affect us too much. I think that’s why in the second half it made it look like they were cutting and screening us much less.”
The second half started with four consecutive fouls on Iowa while the Lady Indians’ got out to a 12-point lead.
But led by back-to-back layups by Cavey, the Hawkeyes scored 17 unanswered points including two three-point plays and a 3-pointer by Armstrong.
When point guard Crystal Smith nailed a layup and grabbed a foul by Sims with 14 minutes left on the clock, it was the first lead the Hawkeyes had since 19:50 in the first half – when the score was 2-0.
Carter came back with a three-point play of her own with 12 minutes left, but Smith had consecutive jumpers to give Iowa a six-point lead, its biggest cushion to that point.
Outside of Carter’s jumper and free throw, however, only Sims was able to manage a field goal for ASU in more than 10 minutes to close the second half.
Carter led Arkansas State with 15 points on 4 of 9 shooting. She was a perfect 6 of 6 from the free throw line, and the Lady Indians were a perfect 11 for 11 from the charity stripe for the night.
From the field, though, the Lady Indians’ shot just 11.5 percent in the second half. They missed 14 shots in the drought and had 13 turnovers.
“I thought we played with a lot of effort and energy in the first half, but in the second half it was a combination of a lot of things,” Boyer said. “The run they put on us and Iowa switching to zone and us turning it over too many times. All that combined put so much pressure that then we start shooting and we just can’t hit anything.”
Smith, who grabbed seven points in seven minutes to finish the game and had 17 points overall, praised the defensive effort of her team for the win.
“The 2-3 defense was tremendous tonight,” the junior said. “We probably played one of the best we’ve played in the second half. I think defense won the game.”
Iowa will travel to Springfield, MO, on Monday night to take on Southwest Missouri State in the semifinal rounds of the WNIT. SMS defeated Texas A&M Thursday night, 62-60.
“It’s going to be different going back and playing at Southwest,” Bluder said. “We’ve had some success there so hopefully that’s going to give us some confidence going in. But it’s a tough place to play.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com