Seventh consecutive win keeps Iowa atop the Big Ten

Feb. 7, 2008

Box Score | Quotes

by Derek Sawvell

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Being granted a sixth year of eligibility has paid off for University of Iowa senior Johanna Solverson, who had a career night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on her way to scoring her 1,000th point Thursday in a victory over Michigan State, 82-64. The win is Iowa’s seventh straight, leading them to a 9-3 record in Big Ten play and 16-7 overall. With the loss, Michigan State falls to 13-11 and 5-7 in conference play.

Iowa’s last loss came on the road to Michigan State and since then the Hawkeyes have been on a roll.

“Since then things have been going real well,” UI junior Wendy Ausdemore said. Ausdemore called Solverson’s performance “amazing.”

Solverson scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists. On an evening in which Iowa had 22 team assists, it was Solverson’s vision and crisp passing that gave easy baskets to several Hawkeyes. When asked whether she would want an assist or a basket on a drive to the lane, Solverson simply said “a great assist, definitely.”

“She made some terrific passes tonight,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Jo has always loved passing the ball. She’s so strong with it and so accurate with it. I’m so happy for her 1000 points. That’s tremendous, but what a game. I’m so thrilled to see her playing some of her best basketball.”

“We played a good 40 minutes,” the humble Solverson said. “It was a big payback considering the last game. We’re just so focused on playing our game.”

Ausdemore also had a big night for the Hawkeyes, scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 3-of-6 from three-point land. Kristi Smith also added 12 points and four assists for Iowa on a night when the Hawkeyes shot 55.6 percent (30-54) from the field.

“Their big three stepped up,” Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant said. “Their three guards show up night in and night out. I think it starts with Solverson. She’s doing a great job being a senior leader on the floor. They played extremely well offensively. They have quickness with Smith, Ausdemore with the three and Solverson has made a big difference for them.”

Iowa out-rebounded the Spartans 43-40 and held them to 37.3 percent shooting.

The Hawkeyes used a balanced scoring attack from the backcourt trio of Ausdemore, Smith and Solverson to control the first half against Michigan State. Ausdemore and Smith each had nine first-half points while Solverson added 10 points, four assists and five rebounds. Iowa shot 5o percent for the half (15-30) and out-rebounded the Spartans 23-15.

The Spartans jumped to a quick 5-0 lead during the first two minutes of the game anchored by a three-point play from Kalisha Keane. Keane would finish the half with seven points and three rebounds.

Iowa then used the next five minutes to step up its defense and go on a 14-0 scoring run to turn a five-point deficit into a seven-point lead, 14-7. Leading the charge for the Hawkeyes was Ausdemore adding seven quick points.

After a timeout and an offensive spurt including five quick points from Alisa Wulff, the Spartans cut the Iowa lead to 18-15. Smith would answer with two jumpers and Krista VandeVenter would score on a three-point play to push the Iowa lead to double digits 29-19.

Michigan State’s Courtney Davidson would come in off the bench and contribute seven points in the final five minutes of the half, including a three-point play with 15 seconds left in the half to cut Iowa’s lead to 36-29 but Solverson would get the last shot of the half for the Hawkeyes, draining a three-pointer with four seconds left, giving Iowa a 39-29 halftime lead.

The Hawkeyes continued where they left off in the second half with five points from Ausdemore and a bucket by Stacy Schlapkohl pushed Iowa’s lead to 15 at 44-29. Ausdemore would add another bucket, Solverson made a three-point play and Schlapkohl would get an easy basket in transition to give Iowa a 57-37 lead.

The Spartans tried to chip away at the lead with strong second half performances from Keane and Brittney Thomas. Keane would finish with 16 points and Thomas added 13 but it was to no avail as the big three for the Hawkeyes kept piling it on throughout the remainder of the game to give Iowa an 82-64 victory.

Iowa’s next game is at Penn State on Feb. 10 at 11:05 a.m. on the Big Ten Network.

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