March 8, 2008
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by Derek Sawvell
INDIANAPOLIS – In a game full of offensive runs, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team was edged by Purdue 80-73 in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament Saturday afternoon in Conseco Fieldhouse. The No. 2 seeded Hawkeyes fall to 21-10 on the season and await their selection to the NCAA tournament.
Stepping up big for Iowa was Kristi Smith with 19 points and seven assists, and Johanna Solverson with 16 points and nine rebounds. Also having big games for the Hawkeyes were Stacy Schlapkohl with 15 points and six rebounds and Wendy Ausdemore adding 10 points.
The story of the game may have been the points in the paint, won 42-30 by Purdue, and points off turnovers, also won 25-4 by the Boilermakers.
“The box-outs and turnovers were the key,” offered Lisa Bluder, Iowa’s veteran head coach and the Big Ten Coach of the Year. “We shot well enough to win, but defensively, we didn’t execute well enough to win.”
“Where we’re at today is because of our defense and our fastbreaks,” Purdue’s Sharon Versyp offered. “We’re a bunch of fighters. These kids just continue to fight harder and harder every minute.”
“The box-outs and turnovers were the key. We shot well enough to win, but defensively, we didn’t execute well enough to win.”
The Hawkeyes opened the game on a 15-4 run during the first five minutes sparked by two three-point baskets by Smith. After three straight buckets from Purdue, Iowa went on an 11-0 run behind inside scoring from both Ausdemore and Schlapkohl, to take its largest lead of the half (17), 26-9. Smith had three three-pionters and finished the half with 11 points. Solverson added 10 points and Schlapkohl added six.
Purdue used the next three minutes to work the ball inside to Keshia Mosley and Kalika France, resulting in a 13-2 run of its own to cut the Iowa lead to 28-22 with 5:49 remaining in the first half. Mosely and France each scored 11 points in the half for the Boilermakers.
After seeing the lead cut to two, 31-29, Sovlerson hit a big three-pointer, Smith hit two free-throws and Schlapkohl made a jump shot in the lane to help Iowa to a 38-35 lead at halftime. Iowa shot 59 percent (13-22) for the half, including shooting 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
Purdue continued to feed the ball inside to Mosely to start the second half and found another scoring option inside in Danielle Campbell, each scoring four quick points to help the Boilermakers take their first lead of the game, 52-51 with just over 13 minutes left to play in the game. Mosely finished with a career-high 18 points. France scored a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Campbell also added 18 points and five rebounds.
“I guess we decided to start playing our style of game,” Versyp said. “It’s tournament time and anything can happen. We had a lot of players step up and that’s huge.”
For the next five minutes, the lead went back and forth with the teams trading shots until Schlapkohl hit back-to-back buckets to help Iowa grab a 62-59 lead with just over eight minutes left in the game.
Iowa would then go cold from the field, missing its next 11 shots, leading to a 14-1 run from Purdue fueled by inside baskets from Campbell to take its first double-digit lead of the night 73-63.
“This helps remind us about keeping our composure,” Bluder said. “When you play in a physical game like today’s, it helps to prepare you for the (NCAA) tournament. March Madness means a new beginning. It’s a new life.”
Two three-point baskets by Ausdemore inside the final minute would not be enough to catch the Boilermakers, as Iowa fell 80-73.
The Hawkeyes now must wait for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to call their name. Undoubtedly, that call will come a week from Monday when the 64-team field for the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament is revealed.
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