Too Much Green

March 3, 2006

Box Score | Notes

Iowa and Michigan State split its two regular season meetings. Spartan Liz Shimek took it upon herself to deliver her team a victory in Game 3.

The senior forward scored a career-high 31 points in just 27 minutes of action on 14-of-16 shooting from the field – a total that included a pair of three-pointers – to lead Michigan State to a 79-58 victory over Bluder’s Bunch in second round action of the 2006 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament. Shimek entered the game averaging slightly better than 17 points a game.

Iowa was paced by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Megan Skouby, who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Wendy Ausdemore came off the bench to contribute 12 points and Crystal Smith pitched in 10 points.

The Spartans improved to 22-8 in 2005-06 and will play Ohio State Sunday at noon in the semi-finals of the league’s post-season party. The loss sent Iowa home to Iowa City with a 17-11 record.

Iowa entered the Big Ten Tournament with a three-game winning streak and wins in five of its last seven games. And, one of the two losses was a 73-71 verdict at Michigan State.

“I feel like apologizing to our fans. I feel bad that we didn’t have our team prepared to play this game becuase they didn’t perform at the high level that they have in the last few weeks,” said UI Coach Lisa Bluder.

“We looked like a young team today, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. This group has achieved so much and grew so much, so I don’t want to lean on that.”

Bluder’s Bunch now will wait to hear from the NCAA about an ar-large invitation to this year’s post-season party.

This game was decided in the first 20 minutes. The Hawkeyes stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 11-6 in the first four minutes and losing Krista VandeVenter to two early fouls. Iowa cut the Spartans’ lead to six at 24-18 when Skouby converted the front of two free throws and Smith turned a steal by VandeVenter into two points before Skouby sank a short jumper with 8:06 left to play in the stanza.

However, the Hawkeyes then turned cold, ice cold, scoring just two four points in the final 8:11 of the half. Morgan Kasparek’s bucket with 26 seconds left to play ended an 18-0 run by the Spartans, who took a 42-20 lead into intermission.

State simply stretched its lead in the second half, reaching a margin of 30 at 73-43 when Rene Haynes dropped a layup with 5:56 left to play.

Iowa was its own worst enemy, committing 23 turnovers that Michigan State converted into 24 points.

“We didn’t take care of the ball very well,” Skouby said, making specific reference to the Hawkeyes’ 19 first-half miscues.

Michigan State was also white hot from the field, hitting at a 53 percent clip from the field in making 35 of 66 field goal attempts. The Spartans also sank five of eight three-point tries.

The Hawkeyes attempted 19 fewer field goal attempts and shot just 38 percent.

Bluder hopes Iowa’s performance against the Spartans doesn’t skew the NCAA Selection Committee’s view of the Hawkeyes vis-a-vis an at-large berth to this year’s national championship. Blulder believes strongly her team deserves an invitation.

“Our body of work, our peformance in our league, the quality of our schedule…” she said.

MSU Coach Joanne P. McCallie was more direct than Bluder on the subject of whether the Hawkeyes are “in” or “out” of the NCAA Tournament. “I believe Iowa and Indiana both (belong in the tournament),” she offered.