Nov. 9, 2008
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by Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team closed out its preseason and improved to 2-0 in exhibition play after defeating the Upper Iowa Peacocks 74-54 this afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The game started off fairly slow with both teams shaking off early-season rust. Iowa won the opening tip, and guard Kachine Alexander scored the first points of the game. Iowa jumped out to a 13-2 lead early before Upper Iowa answered with a 10-3 run, capped by a three-pointer to cut the Hawkeye advantage to 16-12. With Upper Iowa pushing the ball in transition, Iowa stopped the fast-break and trapped the ball-handler to force a five-second call to give the ball back to Iowa.
Iowa didn’t look back. Alexander showcased her athleticism with a double-pump layup with a little under six minutes remaining in the half that brought cheers from the fans. Not to be outdone, Kristi Smith had a beautiful crossover and slashed into the lane with an off-balance layup to put Iowa up 30-18 late in the first half. Iowa went into the half leading 32-23. The Hawkeyes dominated the first half out-rebounding Upper Iowa 23-9 and outscoring them in the paint 20-8.
Upper Iowa tried to get things going in the second half as the Peacocks converted on their first field goal of the half. Wendy Ausdemore provided an answer for the Hawkeyes and displayed her touch from deep, as she knocked down two three-pointers with a little under three minutes into the second half. The Hawkeyes seemed to shake off the rust in the second half, scoring 42 of their 72 points.
Smith was not concerned with the Hawkeyes’ slow start.
“We have a new offense and a lot of new people out there so we got to get our continuity there and our timing down,” Smith said. “But I am confident with a little more practice we will get to where we need to be.”
Upper Iowa guard Andrea Downs provided a nice spark for the Peacocks when she had a three-point play after getting fouled on an acrobatic layup. The spark was short-lived however as JoAnn Hamlin converted a tough turnaround jumper with a hand in her face on the other end, as Iowa regained the momentum. Hamlin, playing in her first game this year due to an ankle injury, led all scorers off the bench with 10 points while adding 6 rebounds.
“I wouldn’t say I am 100-percent pain free, but I am free of enough pain for the trainers to let me play,” Hamlin said. “On a scale to 10, if you’re at a two, you can play. Every athlete has nagging pains and aches and you have to play through those sometimes. I am at about a two.”
Melissa Fitz of Upper Iowa did her best to keep the Peacocks in the game. Fitz gave the Hawkeyes fits all afternoon trying to stop her from downtown, going 5-12 from deep and scoring 15 of 17 points from beyond the arc. Fitz cut the Iowa lead to 10 with a little over 10 minutes remaining, before Lindsey Nyenhuis answered with a trey of her own for the Hawks. Fitz knocked down another three, and Megan Skouby had a nice drive along the baseline and converted for two. Fitz continued her streak from deep as she cashed in another three to bring the Peacocks within 9 at 55-46 with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game.
The Hawkeyes, who proved that teamwork triumphs over individual stats, answered with what may have been the play of the day. Alexander took the ball at the top of the key and threaded the needle to a slashing Ausdemore, who converted the layup and got the foul, for one of Alexander’s game-leading five assists. Ausdemore then converted the and-1 opportunity to give the Hawkeyes a commanding 60-46 lead.
After a small run by Upper Iowa, Ausdemore put the nail in the coffin as she hit her fourth three of the game, and the Hawkeyes held the Peacocks scoreless over the last four minutes of the game. Ausdemore led all Iowa scorers with 17 points. Megan Skouby added 14 for the Hawkeyes, and freshman point guard Kamille Wahlin came off the bench to lead all players with eight rebounds, while adding four assists.
The Hawkeyes dominated Upper Iowa down low, scoring 36 points in the paint, and out-rebounded the Peacocks 54-21. UI head coach Lisa Bluder commented on the team’s success underneath.
“I was really happy with our rebounding tonight,” said Bluder. “We held them to only two offensive rebounds and we had 18 ourselves. I was also really happy with our points in the paint. Thirty-six paint points is very good. That means we are getting some high-percentage shots. I wish we’d have converted a few more down there that we didn’t, but that will come in time.”
The Hawkeyes start the regular season next Sunday against Texas State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena with tipoff at 2:05 p.m.