Jan. 27, 2008
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team rained three’s to drown Michigan, 66-61, and remain in second place Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa redeemed itself from an earlier loss to the Wolverines this year when it lost 63-46. With the win, the Hawkeyes move to 13-7 overall, 6-3 in the Big Ten and have tied their longest winning streak of the year. The Wolverines drop to 12-7, 5-4.
In a clash for second place, the Hawkeyes struggled to find their shot early on and had a tough time handling the ball as the Wolverines took advantage, taking a 10-4 lead with 15:05 remaining.
Sixth-year senior forward Johanna Solverson regained momentum for Iowa when she stole a pass and had a fast break layup. Michigan had no response for Solverson after the lay-up as she proceeded to torch the Wolverines for the next 15 points, putting the Hawkeyes up 19-16 with 7:02 remaining. Solverson hit three from the perimeter during that span.
“Getting a steal and my first shot being a lay-up, built up my confidence,” Solverson said. “My first couple shots I started to get a feel and into a groove. Things just start working out for you and you start picking things up on defense. I didn’t do well offensively or defensively last time against Michigan and it was hard to get my momentum going.”
In the heated battle to remain in second place, the scored alternated back and forth six times before Michigan took a 27-26 lead at halftime.
“It was one of those back and forth games,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It is pretty wearing on you and I think they did show a lot of mental toughness.”
Michigan and Iowa played even in the first half. The Wolverines had a better shooting half going 10 of 25 (40 percent) from the floor and 4 of 6 (67 percent) from downtown. Six offensive rebounds helped Iowa stay in the game as the Hawkeyes shot 10 of 33 (30 percent) inside the arc and 4 of 13 (31 percent) from outside. As Iowa heated up, the Hawkeyes started turning the ball over less and creating more turnovers on defense as Michigan turned the ball over 11 times and Iowa had only five miscues.
Solverson handed off the scoring baton to junior forward Wendy Ausdemore in the second half as she joined in on Solverson’s three campaign and drilled one of her own before feeding Solverson on another from behind the arc to knot the score at 32-32 with 17:35 remaining.
Michigan’s Carly Benson hit a trey to give Michigan the lead again before Ausdemore hit a three to tie the score at 37-37. Ausdemore gave Iowa the lead when she drilled another from the perimeter to take the lead at 42-39 with 14:24 to go.
“It was good to see them falling,” Ausdemore said. “It was a fun game with a lot of three’s.”
“We shot almost 40 percent from three point range,” Bluder said. “We shot a lot of three’s today, more than my liking. We had two more points inside the paint though at 22-20.”
Iowa junior guard Kristi Smith joined in on the fun when she drained one from downtown to give Iowa its largest lead of the afternoon at 47-42 with 12:16 left to play. Senior guard Jenee Graham, known for her aggressive rebounding, provided another spark off the bench grabbing five boards to go along with six points.
Michigan continued to make it close, but the Hawkeyes never looked back as Solverson took the game over late when she hit 6 of 6 free throws along with two layups, scoring the next 10 points to give Iowa a 63-58 advantage.
Michigan’s Jessica Minnfield hit a three and trimmed Iowa’s lead 64-61. The Wolverines made a crucial mistake as they let time wind down to 1.2 seconds before fouling Smith who hit both of her free throws to win, 66-61.
“I don’t know why we didn’t foul,” Michigan head coach Kevin Borseth said. “I think you would want to foul them that would make sense. That was the only thing we didn’t say in the huddle but obviously you need to spell everything out. I thought that was a given and we didn’t do it.”
Iowa shot the ball much better in the second half as it finished 23 of 58 (40 percent) from the field and 9 of 23 (39 percent) from downtown. Michigan shot 23 of 51 (45 percent) and 9 of 14 (64 percent) from the perimeter. In the end, turnovers hurt the Wolverines as they had 18 to Iowa’s 9.
“When you are in a game like this and you don’t turn the ball over,” Bluder said. “We had nine turnovers and I can’t remember the last time we were in single digits for turnovers. I think that was tremendous.”
“They did very well offensively, I give them credit,” Borseth said. “They were solid and they made shots.”
Once again, a team effort helped the Hawkeyes come out victorious. Three Iowa players finished in double-figures led by Solverson who had a game-high 28 points and five rebounds. Smith finished with 12 points and Ausdemore had 11.
“In my career, it has been a long one,” Solverson joked. “I have been working really hard to getting back to where I want to be and feeling good and confident about my game. This game put me up where I want to be and hopefully that continues.”
“I’m so happy for her,” Bluder said. “All that she has gone through and you can see her after surgery how hard she worked. She had been rehabbing for two years. You do that for one year and then to have your hopes dashed again and then to have to know what is ahead of you, I think is even harder. For her to do that, it means so much to us for the experience, the depth, the leadership. Everyone on this team can look to her and see the price she has paid to wear that Iowa uniform and if that doesn’t inspire you and if you don’t want to win for her, there are not too many more examples you can draw from.”
Iowa travels to Evanston, Ill., to take on Northwestern next Thursday, Jan. 31, with an 8:05 p.m. tip-off. Iowa is a half game out of first place in the Big Ten Conference.
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