Bluder's Bunch Derailed

March 23, 2008

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by Derek Sawvell

NORFOLK, Va. — In a tightly contested battle of evenly matched foes, Georgia slipped passed the University of Iowa women’s basketball team 67-61 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in Norfolk, Virginia Sunday afternoon. Iowa finishes the 2007-2008 season with a 21-11 overall record.

Rebounding and Georgia’s free-throw shooting late in the game tell the story in a match-up of the No. 8 seed Georgia and No. 9 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes. Georgia out-rebounded the Hawkeyes 35-28, including 11 offensive rebounds leading to 13 second chance points. Iowa finished the game shooting 42 percent (24-57) while Georgia shot 37.5 percent (24-64) and also made 12-16 free-throws.

“We didn’t rebound,” Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen said. “We just did not put bodies on them. That’s the story of the game, rebounding, period end of story.”

Leading the way for Iowa was Kristi Smith with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. Wendy Ausdemore scored 16 points for Iowa, Megan Skouby poured in nine from the bench and Johanna Solverson scored six points, grabbed eight rebounds and passed for five assists.

After starting slow and falling behind 8-0 during the first three minutes of play, the Hawkeyes hit three straight three-point baskets to help pull them within four, 13-9. Hitting the triples for Iowa was Solverson, Ausdemore and Skouby. Skouby would add another bucket inside to cut the lead to 13-11.

Georgia found inside presence early, getting eight points from Angel Robinson and seven points from leading scorer Tasha Humphrey. Iowa then implemented a 2-3 zone defense, limiting Georgia’s touches inside.

Following the defensive switch, the Hawkeyes climbed their way into a 20-17 lead after Ausdemore hit her second three-pointer of the half. Ausdemore would finish the half with six points.

Robinson gave the Bulldogs the lead back 25-24 after making another inside bucket but the lead was short-lived as Kristi Smith scored five quick points for Iowa to take the lead back 29-25 with inside two minutes to play in the half. Smith finished the half with seven points. Krista VandeVenter would add a lay-up at the buzzer to increase Iowa’s lead to six (31-25) at the half.

Iowa shot 44 percent for the half (11-25) including 5-10 from behind the arc while holding Georgia to 34.4 percent shooting (11-32).

Georgia began the second half going right back inside to Robinson for six fast points. Megan Darrah would also heat up for the Bulldogs, hitting a three-pointer to cut the Iowa lead to 34-33. Darrah would finish the game with 13 points, all of which came in the second half. Robinson and Humphrey both finished the game with double-doubles for the Bulldogs. Robinson scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Humphrey scored 12 and also grabbed 11 rebounds.

“In the second half we were a lot slower,” Jensen said.

After Humphrey would tie the game at 44-44, the teams would trade baskets until Smith hit a big three-point basket for Iowa, tying the game at 57. After a timeout, Humphrey hit a baseline fade-away jumper with 58 seconds left to give Georgia a 59-57 lead. Iowa then spent the last minute fouling Georgia guard Ashley Houts and sending her to the free-throw line. Houts would make eight free-throws down the stretch, sealing the victory for Georgia 67-61. Houts finished with 13 points (9-9 free-throws).

“We traded way too many baskets with them,” Jensen said. “Their experience really shined through in the end. Everybody in that (Iowa) locker-room expected to win.”

This was the last game in the career of Iowa’s five seniors, Abby Emmert, Jenee Graham, Solverson, Stacy Schlapkohl and VandeVenter.

“That group really buckled down after last season,” Jensen said. “They said `no excuses and we’re going to work our tails off.’ They didn’t expect it to end today and that’s why it hurts.”

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