'Benchwarmer' not a derogatory term at Iowa

Jan. 25, 2008

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team defeated Purdue for just the second time in 11 outings Thursday evening, leaving both in a tie for second place in the Big Ten Conference. It was a relatively dominant and convincing effort by the Hawkeyes, who won going away, 69-53.

The final margin of victory was 16 points. Iowa’s bench outscored the Boilermaker bench, 25-7, or by a total of 18 points. That statistic is too obvious to overlook.

“I think one of our strengths is our bench,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Almost every game that is probably true that our bench has outscored the opponent’s bench. Our bench has always been pretty strong.”

There were four non-starters that played for the Hawkeyes on Thursday and helped lift Iowa within a game of the conference lead. Megan Skouby scored 17 points on 5 of 7 shooting from the field and she was a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw line with three blocked shots. Jenee Graham scored six points with eight rebounds, two steals and two assists. JoAnn Hamlin added four rebounds in 11 minutes and Abby Emmert played seven important minutes.

“It’s nice to be able to have people come in like Megan, Jenee, JoAnn Hamlin — you know, Abby Emmert came in and played minutes out of position (against Purdue),” Bluder said. “She hasn’t played the two-guard all year and then here she comes in and contributes for us out of position.”

It was Graham who provided an immediate energy boost for the Hawkeyes against Purdue. But the Hawkeye of late who has been critical to a three-game winning streak has been Skouby. Skouby has now scored in double figures four consecutive games — 10 at Michigan State, 11 against Wisconsin, 10 at Illinois and 17 against Purdue. Her 22 minutes against the Boilermakers is the fourth-most minutes she has logged this season.

“I just want to contribute to the team any way I can,” Skouby said. “I feel like I’ve been able to come in there and play some pretty solid minutes.”

During the last four games (in which Iowa has compiled a 3-1 record), Skouby has averaged 12.0 points per game, while shooting 56.7 percent from the field (17 of 30), 82.4 percent from the line (14 of 17) and averaged 19 minutes of playing time.

“Megan is shooting the ball better and she’s shooting it with more confidence,” Bluder said. “She’s also doing a better job of staying on the block and not being pushed around so much. She’s playing with much more confidence and she’s being more assertive.”

At Iowa, being a benchwarmer is far from a derogatory term. In fact, the Hawkeyes off the bench this season have been pivotal in Iowa’s ascent up the Big Ten standings. The Hawkeyes will seek their fourth consecutive victory Sunday, Jan. 27, at home against Michigan. Tip-off is 2:05 p.m.

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