July 25, 2005
AALST, BELGIUM — Iowa senior Crystal Smith hit a 10-foot jumper with just seconds remaining to lift the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Foreign Tour All-Stars past the Belgium National Team, 78-77, Saturday night. The win improved the All-Stars’ Tour record to 4-0 with one game remaining on Monday.
The All-Stars led for much of the game and held a 38-30 edge at halftime. Belgium began heating up in the second half and tied the game at 69-69 with just under four minutes to play. After Minnesota’s Liz Podominick and Michigan State’s Victoria Lucas-Perry each hit shots, the All-Stars held a 76-72 lead with a minute remaining. Belgium rallied, though, going on a 5-0 run to take the lead with 14 seconds left.
Tour head coach and Penn State mentor Rene Portland called a timeout to set up the last shot for Smith. The Hawkeye guard led the team with 20 points and five assists and hit two 3-pointers in the game. Indiana’s Cyndi Valentin added 14 points and Wisconsin’s Janese Banks checked in with 10. Under the boards Lucas-Perry and Northwestern’s Ifeoma Okonkwo each pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The Big Ten All-Stars went 24-of-54 from the field for 44 percent on the night against the competitive Belgium National Team. A highly-physical game, the All-Stars went to the line 34 times, hitting 27 of their attempts from the charity stripe, led by Valentin’s perfect 10-for-10 shooting.
Smith’s 20-point outburst is the most by a Big Ten All-Star so far on the foreign tour. The native of Haughton, LA, ranks second on the squad in scoring (12.5 ppg) and second in assists (3.0 apg) and 3-pointers made (4).
The All-Stars face Luxembourg in the final exhibition game of the Tour on Monday in Luxembourg. The squad arrived in Brugge, Belgium on Saturday, and will also spend Sunday in the city. The team will tour Luxembourg on Monday before the game and spend the night in Brussels. On Tuesday the team will revisit Amsterdam for one more day and night before returning to the United States on Tuesday.
The Big Ten is looking to complete its fourth-consecutive undefeated Tour. The team has now won 18 straight contests and has gone 50-18 (.735) since the inception of the Tour in 1992, which has been held annually except for 2003.