Jan. 25, 2007
IOWA CITY — This time, the hole was too deep for Lisa Bluder’s Iowa Hawkeyes….but just barely.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team opened its 2007 Big Ten Conference season with a 58-56 victory over Minnesota in Minneapolis on Dec. 28. The Hawkeyes erased a 17-point second half deficit to claim that victory.
Thursday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Bluder’s Bunch spotted the visiting Golden Gophers a 24-point margin before staging a furious rally that sent the game into overtime where Minnesota struggled to claim an 80-78 victory.
Minnesota’s Brittany McCoy sank a pair of free throws with 11:28 to play to give the Gophers a 60-38 margin. It was then that the home team proceeded to do what the overwhelming majority of the audience in Carver-Hawkeye Arena would have to honestly describe as the impossible.
Led by fiery point guard Kristi Smith’s three three’s, a pair of jumpers and three free throws – 16 points total – the Hawkeyes outscored the Gophers 34-12 to send the game into overtime.
The comeback was completed when Smith sank a three-point bucket with 41 seconds to play to knot the score at 71-all. Emily Fox gave the UM a one-point margin when she sank a free throw with 26 second left on the clock.
Iowa’s Krista VandeVenter responded in-kind with a free throw of her own with 11 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Hawkeyes took their first lead of the game at 76-74 a little more than two minutes into overtime when Wendy Ausdemore sank a three-point bucket. Minnesota responded with a jumper by Brittany McCoy, a pair of free throws by Leslie Knight buckets and a short jumper by Ashley Ellis-Milan to take a 80-76 lead with 1:17 remaining.
A pair of free throws by Smith pulled Iowa to with two with 25 seconds to play.
Smith led all Iowa scorers with a career-high 25 points. She was brilliant from the field, knocking down seven of 16 field goal tries including four of six attempts from behind the arc. She also sank seven of eight attempts from the charity stripe and grabbed four rebounds.
Megan Skouby scored 14 points before fouling out with 2:19 left in regulation. Ausdemore also scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Fox led all scorers with 30 points for the Gophers. The guard sank 10 of 18 field goal attempts including five of six tries for three. She also was credited with five assists in 44 minutes of action. Four other Gophers scored in double-figures.
As poorly as the Hawkeyes played in the first half – they were outscored by 20 and outrebounded and outhustled, they were equally brilliant in the second half. They ended the contest just slightly behind the visitors in field goal percentage – 47 percent to 42 – were more productive at the line, equally productive behind the arc, and won the battle of the boards.
The loss dropped Iowa to 11-10 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten Conference action. The Gophers improved to 13-9 and 5-3. Iowa returns to action Sunday at Penn State. The Lady Lions upset nationally-ranked Michigan State in State College Thursday night.