Dec. 8, 2007
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team passed its first test at the KCRG TV9 Hawkeye Challenge on Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeye players also received a passing grade on a Friday night homework assignment from head coach Lisa Bluder.
“I would have to give them all A’s after the performance today,” said Bluder following Iowa’s 87-43 dismantling of Northern Illinois. “We were trying to build our confidence again.”
For the assignment, Bluder had every player reflect back and write about their strengths as a basketball player, how hard they have worked to make it to the Division I level and to think of someone who gives them confidence.
“Everybody turned them in,” Bluder said.
And did the Hawkeyes ever respond.
Consider that Iowa more than doubled the score on Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes had five players score in double figures, led by Lindsey Nyenhuis with 14. All 13 players saw nine minutes or more of playing time and Abby Emmert was the lone Iowa player to exceed 20 court minutes (23). Twelve Hawkeyes scored points and 12 had at least one assist.
“I’m very, very happy with the way we played,” Bluder said. “We gained inspiration from playing well offensively and defensively.”
The Hawkeyes improved to 6-3 overall and advanced to the championship of the tournament on Sunday, Dec. 9, at noon. Northern Illinois is 2-6.
The point total for Iowa is the most in 10 games, dating back to a 103-93 win against Wisconsin on Feb. 25, 2007.
The slow start that plagued Iowa during a 58-44 loss at Iowa State three days earlier faded into the distance as the Hawkeyes scored the first 10 points against Northern Illinois and led 41-17 at halftime. Megan Skouby’s field goal with 6-minutes, 22-seconds remaining gave Iowa its largest advantage of the game at 46 points (79-33).
“It was important for us to play well and have a convincing win,” Bluder said. “We proved to ourselves that we can execute at a quality level.”
The Iowa bench outscored all of the Huskies combined, 49-43. Twenty-three of the UI’s 35 field goals were assisted (Emmert had a team-high 5). The Hawkeyes forced 23 turnovers and shot an eye-popping 58.3 percent from the field (35 of 60) and an even more impressive 62.5 percent from three-point range (10 of 16).
“This game was a lot of fun for everyone,” said JoAnn Hamlin, who scored 12 points with four assists. “We had a lot of fast-break layups and assists. We proved ourselves in the first half, then we went out and proved ourselves in the second half. That builds a lot of confidence.”
In a game with several impressive statistics lines, none stuck out more than the one from Nyenhuis. In 20 minutes she made 5 of 6 field goals (4 of 4 three-pointers) for 14 points with an assist and steal. Wendy Ausdemore and Hamlin scored 12 points and Johanna Solverson and Skouby added 10. Krista VandeVenter pulled down a team-high five rebounds in 12 minutes.
“Lindsey provided a great spark off the bench,” Bluder said. “Hamlin is beginning to grow and just having Jenee Graham’s presence out there was nice.”
Graham, who missed the last three games with a broken bone in her hand, played 12 minutes with four points, three rebounds and two assists.
Iowa won the turnover battle 23-12 and out-scored Northern Illinois 29-4 on points off turnovers.
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