Hawkeyes Travel to Minnesota Thursday

Dec. 31, 2007

The Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5, 1-1) remain on the road Thursday as it travels to Minneapolis, MN, to face Minnesota (11-3, 2-0). Tip-off is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Williams Arena.

Minnesota has won three straight games entering Thursday night’s contest, while Iowa has won two of its last three. The Golden Gophers are 6-1 in home games, while the Hawkeyes are 2-3 in contests away from Iowa City.

Brent Balbinot and Shelley Till will call Thursday night’s game for the Hawkeye Radio Network. Hawkeye fans can listen to the contest on WHO 1040-AM in Des Moines, WMT 600-AM in Cedar Rapids and KXIC 800-AM in Iowa City. Balbinot is in his fourth season as Iowa’s play-by-play voice, while Till is in her third providing analysis.

Iowa has played 951 games since beginning basketball in 1974. Overall, Iowa’s record is 576-375 (.606). That includes a 284-142 (.667) mark in Big Ten games and a 265-80 (.768) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Thursday will be the 58th meeting between Iowa and Minnesota, with the Hawkeyes leading the series 37-20. Minnesota has won seven of the last 10 meetings. Iowa holds a 15-11 advantage in games played at Minneapolis.

Minnesota and Iowa split last year’s competitions, with the road team winning each by two points in thrilling fashion. Iowa rallied from 17 points down in the second half to post a 58-56 come-from-behind victory at Williams Arena, Dec. 28, 2006. The comeback was Iowa’s second-largest under Coach Bluder (Iowa rallied from 19 points down to Indiana in 2001). The Golden Gophers escaped with an 80-78 overtime victory in Iowa City, Jan. 14, 2007. Iowa overcame a 24-point second-half deficit to tie the game and send it to overtime, but Minnesota prevailed.

Minnesota concludes a stretch of playing four of five home games Thursday. The Golden Gophers have won three of its last four contests, including picking up a pair of league victories to open Big Ten play.

Minnesota won at Michigan State (74-63) last Friday before returning home and defeating Purdue (70-63) Sunday. Four starters netted double figures, led by junior Emily Fox’s 19 points, in the Golden Gophers’ triumph at East Lansing. Minnesota out-rebounded Michigan State by 12 (42-30). Minnesota had only nine turnovers, while forcing 22 Boilermaker miscues en route to a seven-point win at Minneapolis. Senior Leslie Knight scored a game and career-high 20 points to spark Minnesota’s offense.

On the weekend, Knight averaged 18 points on a .609 shooting percentage, seven rebounds, 2.5 assists and one steal per game. Her efforts earned her Big Ten Player of the Week honors.

Fox ranks third in Big Ten scoring (17.5), assists (4.21) and minutes played (36.43), first in 3-point field goal percentage (.489) and fifth in steals (2.21). Ellis-Milan ranks fifth in conference rebounding (7.7)

The Golden Gophers are coached by Pam Borton, who is in her sixth season (123-52, .703) as Minnesota’s head coach and 10th season overall (192-98, .662).

? Iowa’s win over Penn State last Friday night was its first signature victory of the season. Penn State was rated 12th in the RPI on www.collegerpi.com. Iowa is ranked 62nd in the RPI, as of Monday.
? Minnesota’s Leslie Knight (Hopkins HS) edged out Iowa’s Krista VandeVenter (Osseo HS) their senior year for the Miss Minnesota Basketball award in 2004. VandeVenter has been a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes, while Knight has started the last two seasons.
? Iowa has two players on its roster that hail from the state of Minnesota: freshman Kachine Alexander (Minneapolis) and senior Krista VandeVenter (Osseo). Since her high school graduation, Alexander’s parents moved to Iowa City to be with their daughter.
? Iowa and Minnesota have two common opponents: Iowa State and Northern Iowa. Both Iowa (77-67) and Minnesota (68-57) won at Northern Iowa. Iowa lost at Iowa State (58-44), while Minnesota downed the Cyclones (69-61) in Minneapolis.
? Four Hawkeyes average better than 10.5 points per game in games against Minnesota (Megan Skouby, 14.3, Wendy Ausdemore, 14.3, Kristi Smith, 11.3, Krista VandeVenter, 10.5).
? Iowa posted season highs in offensive rebounds (18) and 3-pointers attempted (22) vs. Penn State.
? Krista VandeVenter reached 700 rebounds when she pulled down nine in Iowa’s last contest at Michigan; she now has 705. She currently ranks ninth in Iowa career rebounding. Additionally, Johanna Solverson (885) is 15 points from notching career point No. 900. She ranks 26th in Iowa career scoring.
? Point guard Kristi Smith has collected seven assists three times this year (Dartmouth, Mississippi State and Western Illinois).
? Iowa has held nine of its 13 opponents to 58 points or less this year.
? Minnesota ranks first in Big Ten 3-point percentage (.389) and turnover margin (+4.29) and second in scoring offense (69.4) and rebounds allowed (32.9). Iowa ranks first in scoring defense )55.2) and field goal percentage defense (.353) and third in 3-point percentage (.376) and 3-pointers made (5.23).
? Iowa is 110-14 when leading at the half in eight years under Coach Bluder. Iowa is 90-19 when holding opponents to 69 points or less, including a 41-3 mark when opponents score 59 points or less.
? Wendy Ausdemore (114) is only two triples from tying Crystal Smith’s fifth-place mark of 116 career triples.
? Megan Skouby is only 18 points behind Johanna Solverson in career scoring. Solverson has accumulated 885 points, while Skouby has 867.
? Iowa played five non-conference games against a team from a major conference: SEC (Mississippi State), Pac-10 (Arizona State), ACC (Georgia Tech), Big XII (Iowa State) and MWC (Wyoming).
? Iowa’s 44-point triumph over Northern Illinois (87-43) tied the program’s 17th-biggest margin of victory, equaling its 93-49 win over Iowa State during the 1987-88 season.

Iowa overcame a 24-point second-half deficit vs. Minnesota to force overtime, but ultimately succumbed 80-78 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Jan. 14, 2007.

Minnesota used a strong shooting performance the first 29 minutes to build the 24-point cushion. Down by 22 with 11:30 left in regulation, Iowa made nine of its last 14 field goal attempts and 11-13 from the foul line to outscore the Gophers 34-12 to force the extra session. Sparking the Hawkeye rally was Kristi Smith, who scored 19 points the last 11 minutes of regulation. The sophomore was 6-7 from the field, including 4-4 from behind the arc, and 3-3 from the foul line down the stretch.

Iowa trailed 71-68 with under a minute to play in regulation, and Smith drained her fourth straight triple to tie the game 71-71 with 41 seconds left. Minnesota’s Emily Fox sank a free throw with 26 seconds left to give the Gophers a one-point edge. Iowa’s Krista VandeVenter was fouled with 11 seconds remaining and was able to split the pair of free throws to even the game at 72-72. Fox’s 10-foot jumper with three seconds left was off the mark and sent the game into overtime.

Iowa took its first and only lead of the game (76-74) on a Wendy Ausdemore 3-pointer with 2:34 left, but the Gophers finished the game on a 6-2 run to escape with the victory. Smith had an opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer, but her lean-in jumper in the paint didn’t drop.

Smith scored a team and career-high 25 points, while Ausdemore and Megan Skouby each contributed 14 points in defeat.

All five Minnesota starters posted double figures. Fox led all scorers with a career-high 30 points, bolstered by 5-6 shooting from 3-point range. Leslie Knight netted 12 points, while Brittany McCoy, Kelly Roysland and Ashley Ellis-Milan each tallied 10.

Wendy Ausdemore and Kristi Smith had two outstanding games against Minnesota last season.

Ausdemore shot a blistering 7-9 from the floor, including 4-5 from 3-point range, matching a then-career-high 23 points (15 in the second half) in Iowa’s win at Minnesota. Ausdemore posted her first career double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) in Iowa’s home overtime loss.

Smith netted 19 of her career-high 25 points in the final 11 minutes of regulation in the Hawkeyes’ home overtime loss to the Golden Gophers. Smith collected seven points, three steals and dished out a personal-best 10 assists in Iowa’s victory at Minnesota.

The start of the Big Ten schedule will be challenging for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Its first five games are against teams that rank in the RPI top 50, including four (Penn State, 21; Michigan, 15; Minnesota, 14 and Michigan State, 31) with RPIs 31 or better. Furthermore, Iowa is in the middle of playing three of four games away from Iowa City.

Last season Iowa ranked last in Big Ten scoring defense (71.7) and field goal percentage defense (.447).

Through 13 games this year, Iowa is tops in the conference in scoring defense (55.2) and field goal percentage defense (.353) and third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.280).

Reserve guard Lindsey Nyenhuis is out indefinitely with a stress fracture (left foot). The injury was diagnosed Dec. 19 and she will be in a boot for about two weeks.

Michigan went on an 18-4 run late in the second half to propel the Wolverines to a 63-46 triumph over the Iowa Hawkeyes Sunday in Ann Arbor. The win snapped an eight-game losing skid to the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The game saw nine ties and five lead changes the first 25 minutes before Michigan pulled away. During the Michigan second half scoring surge, Iowa went on a 6:23 scoring drought, missing six straight field goals and two free throw attempts. Iowa scored a season-low 20 points, shooting only 21.1 percent (8-38) in the second stanza. Conversely, Michigan netted 39 points, shooting a blistering 58.3 percent (14-24) in the final 20 minutes.

Krista VandeVenter paced the Hawkeyes scoring a game-high 14 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting from the field. The senior also snagged a team-best nine rebounds. Stacy Schlapkohl contributed 11 points, while Wendy Ausdemore added 10.

Michigan was led by sophomore center Krista Phillips (12 points, 13 rebounds), Janelle Cooper (13 points, 5 rebounds) and Krista Clement (12 points, 6 rebounds).

? Iowa shot a season-low 21.1 percent (4-19) from behind the 3-point arc. The Hawkeyes also shot only 44.4 percent (4-9) from the foul line, its second-lowest free throw percentage this season.
? Iowa allowed 63 points, the most it has yielded since Georgia Tech (76) on Nov. 28. The Hawkeyes managed to score only 46 points, its second-lowest output of the season (Iowa State, 44).
? Iowa’s leading scorer entering Sunday’s contest, Kristi Smith, was plagued by foul trouble. The junior sat the last five minutes of the first half and six minutes midway through the second. Smith scored all five of her points and three assists in the first half.
? Krista VandeVenter has pulled down a total of 21 rebounds the last two games. Stacy Schlapkohl scored seven of her 11 points in the first 20 minutes.
? Krista VandeVenter and Stacy Schlapkohl scored 17 of Iowa’s 20 points during a stretch spanning halves.
? Wendy Ausdemore, who has led the nation in 3-point accuracy the last three weeks, missed her first two 3-point attempts before sinking her third attempt. Ausdemore had missed eight consecutive triples, going back to Iowa’s game vs. Penn State Friday. She finished the game only 2-10 (.200) from behind the arc.
? Iowa out-scored Michigan 29-21 in the paint and 12-8 in second chance points.

Iowa has been very accurate shooting the ball behind the arc this season. The Hawkeyes rank third in the Big Ten, shooting 37.6 percent (68-181) from 3-point range. Three Hawkeyes have combined for 59 of their 68 triples (Wendy Ausdemore, 32; Kristi Smith, 15; Johanna Solverson, 12). Iowa has shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range in six of 13 games this year, including a season-best 62.5 percent (10-16) against Northern Illinois. Last season, Iowa ranked third nationally in 3-point shooting percentage (.402).

Head Coach Lisa Bluder, the dean of Big Ten coaches, is only nine victories (489) from reaching her 500th career win. Bluder amassed 127 wins at St. Ambrose (1984-1990), 187 victories at Drake (1990-2000) and 135 at Iowa (2000-07).

Junior Wendy Ausdemore doesn’t get to the free throw line very much, only 1.6 attempts in 72 games the last three years, but rarely misses when she toes the line.

Ausdemore has missed only 11 free throws in her career (.903, 102-113). The native of Neola, IA, broke the Iowa single-season free throw percentage (.902, 55-61) and Big Ten-season free throw percentage (.975, 39-40) records her sophomore campaign.

Iowa ranks first in two Big Ten statistical caregories: field goal percentage defense (.353) and scoring defense (55.2). The Hawkeyes also rank third in 3-point percentage (.376), 3-pointers made (5.23) and 3-point field goal defense (.280). Individually, Wendy Ausdemore ranks second in 3-pointers made (2.46) and 3-point field goal percentage (.478) and 18th in scoring (11.5). Kristi Smith ranks sixth in free throw percentage (.848), 12th in assists (3.15) and 19th in scoring (11.2).

Hannah Draxten, Shante Jones, Kelly Krei, Tia Mays and Kamille Wahlin have signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa.

“This is a large balanced class that covers every position,” said Head Coach Lisa Bluder.

Draxten, a 6-0 wing player, has been a varsity starter since eighth grade, starting in 104 consecutive games for Fergus Falls High School in Minnesota. She has been the team’s leading scorer all four years. A two-year team captain, Draxten holds the all-time Fergus Falls High School records (boys and girls) for scoring (1,830) and rebounding (755). She has averaged 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over her career. Draxten is a two-time Class 3A first team all-state and all-conference honoree.

Wahlin, a native of Crookston, MN, is a 5-8 left-handed point guard who averaged 19.9 points for her Crookston High School basketball team that went 24-3 a year ago. A third-year captain, she boasts career averages of 16.5 ppg, 4.8 apg and 3.0 spg. Wahlin established school records in scoring, assists, steals and field goals. Her team finished second in the Minnesota state tournament her sophomore campaign, where she was recognized on the all-tournament squad. She was tabbed Minnesota Coaches Association All-State and was her team’s MVP the last two seasons. Wahlin sank 47 consecutive free throws last year. Wahlin played on the same AAU team (North Tartan Larson) as Draxten last summer.

Krei, a native of Iowa City, has averaged 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists the last three years for City High. A two-time captain, she was a first team all-state honoree her freshman and junior years and was a second team selection as a sophomore. Krei is a three-time first team all-conference, all-district and all-area honoree. The 6-2 forward was named the 2007 Mississippi Valley Conference Player of the Year in basketball and track.

Mays, a native of Des Moines, is a four-year starter for Des Moines East High School. She was a pre-season Street & Smith’s honorable mention all-American in 2006. Last season as a junior, she was an all-state, all-conference and all-district performer. A second-year captain, she helped lead her team to a school-best 19-5 record and a berth to the Girls State Tournament. A 6-1 forward, she led the Lady Scarlets in points (15 ppg), rebounds (10 rpg), blocks (4 bpg) and field goal percentage (63%).

Jones is a 5-9 guard/forward from Dayton, OH. Jones played her first two years at Stivers School for the Arts and competed for Carroll High School last season. She averaged 17.8 points her junior year and was tabbed first team all-league and second team all-conference, all-district and all-southwest. Jones was named MVP of Carroll High School her junior season. She was selected first team all-league, all-conference and all-district her sophomore campaign. Jones was the highest scorer in the area her sophomore year (28.0 ppg) and named Stivers High School MVP.

Johanna Solverson has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing the last two seasons due to consecutive ACL tears in her right knee. The 6-2 small forward played in all but one game her first three seasons. One of Iowa’s most versatile players, she boasts a career average of 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 107 games.

Solverson becomes only the second Iowa women’s basketball player to receive a sixth year from the NCAA. Simone Edwards (1993-97) received a sixth year after suffering two season-ending knee injuries. Edwards played two full seasons and a partial third with the Hawkeyes after transferring to Iowa from Seminole Junior College.

Iowa will honor and celebrate the 1992-93 team that posted a 27-4 overall record, captured first place in the Big Ten with a 16-2 mark and advanced to the Final Four in Atlanta. The team will be recognized at halftime of the February 17th game vs. Minnesota.

Iowa’s roster features five players from the state of Iowa (Wendy Ausdemore, Kelsey Cermak, Abby Emmert, Stacy Schlapkohl and Nicole VanderPol). The Hawkeyes also have two players from Illinois (Jenee Graham and Johanna Solverson) and Minnesota (Kachine Alexander and Krista VandeVenter). Iowa’s 13-person roster also features players from Colorado (Kristi Smith), Kansas (JoAnn Hamlin), Michigan (Lindsey Nyenhuis) and Ohio (Megan Skouby).

Iowa Hawkeye fans will again be treated to behind-the-scenes information this season as seniors Jenee Graham and Johanna Solverson and junior Lindsey Nyenhuis will blog during the season, which will be posted on hawkeyesports.com. The trio will share their thoughts on practices, games, road trips, and everything else concerning the program.

All-session tickets for the 2008 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament presented by Xbox 360 Live are $45 through Jan. 7, 2008, that’s a $20 discount from the regular price. After Jan. 7, all-session tickets will be $65. Tickets can be purchased at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (319) 363-1888.

The tournament returns to Indianapolis for the 13th time in 14 years and has attracted more than 29,000 fans for each of the last six events. The 2006 tournament attendance of 38,638 and session average of 7,728 were both event records. In the past 13 years of Big Ten Tournament play, the conference has welcomed more than 382,000 fans. Six different league representatives have become tournament champions. Purdue leads all teams with six titles followed by two championships for both Iowa and Penn State and a single title for Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Statistics and play-by-play accounts of all games will be available live on the internet. The statistical program allows viewers to read the play-by-play action just moments after it takes place, and to view all individual and team statistics while the game is in progress.

The program can be accessed through hawkeyesports.com and then clicking on the `Gametracker’ link.

The Hawkeyes return home to host nationally-ranked Ohio State Sunday. The game against the Buckeyes will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (HD) at 3 p.m. (CST).

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