Nov. 23, 2008
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By Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Women’s basketball team provided too many challenges for the Providence Friars to overcome, winning the championship of the KCRG TV-9 Hawkeye Classic on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. UI seniors Megan Skouby (MVP), Wendy Ausdemore and Kristi Smith were named to the all-tournament team.
“It’s nice to keep the trophy home this year,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “I loved the balanced scoring we had today. I thought our defense was also pretty good.”
Iowa had four players score in double figures, with Kachine Alexander leading the way with 15 points while also chipping in with a game-high 11 rebounds. Skouby wasn’t far behind with 13 points. The Hawkeyes also continued their excellent defensive and rebounding effort as they held Providence to only 35.1-percent shooting from the field, and a mere 21.4-percent from three-point range (3-14).
Iowa showed its defensive prowess from the start, yet Providence was able to do the same. Both teams were held scoreless two minutes into the game, until Alexander scored the first points as she took the ball strong to the basket and scored on a contested layup.
“I think I am a lot more confident this year in my shot and I think that brings more opportunities for me,” said Alexander. “To score, I don’t have to just drive. The coaches have put a lot of confidence in me and that has helped.”
Iowa started to find a little rhythm and scored the first seven points of the game. Providence was able to cut the lead to two, until two nice drives along the baseline by Skouby and Ausdemore put Iowa up 19-13 with 6:30 left in the half. After two free throws by Skouby, Ausdemore decided to take her game to the perimeter and nailed a three-point field goal to stretch the Iowa lead to 11.
With the half winding down, Alexander had a beautiful feed off a dribble drive to JoAnn Hamlin who converted to put Iowa up 30-21. Iowa went into the half leading the Friars 30-23.
The Hawkeyes started the 2nd half with what they know best — defense. Smith stole the ball from Providence and broke away in the open court for a layup to get things going for Iowa 30 seconds into the second half. Smith was active all game on the defensive side of the ball, helping Iowa force the Friars into 14 turnovers.
After a few fouls on the Hawkeyes, Providence was able to climb within five points before Lindsey Nyenhuis drained a tough three just as the shot-clock buzzer sounded. This pushed the Iowa lead to 35-27 a few minutes into the second half.
Providence refused to go away however. The Friars were within three points before Smith nailed a big basket to put Iowa up five. The next trip up the floor for the Hawkeyes, Smith found Ausdemore coming off a high screen, who then confidently fired up a three with no hesitation. The ball sailed through the basket to give the Hawks an eight-point lead.
“I think that’s where you have to go with the experience when it gets down that close,” Bluder said. “There’s nothing that can be a good teacher besides that practical experience.”
Iowa closed out an 8-0 run with a basket underneath by which made the score 45-33. Providence tried its best to answer the Hawkeye challenge. The Friars connected on a pair of threes to cut the Iowa advantage to eight. Skouby gave the Hawkeyes a double-digit lead again as she converted on a jumper. Freshman Kelly Krei came off the bench and added a deep three to put Iowa up by 12. Iowa never looked back as it closed the game on a 15-4 run that was triggered by Krei’s three-pointer.
Iowa will travel to the Virgin Islands to compete in the Paradise Jam, taking on Texas Tech, South Florida, and California in a span of three days.
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” Bluder said. “Three excellent teams from three power conferences. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to go down there and make some noise.”
The tournament starts Nov. 27 against Texas Tech with tip-off scheduled for 5:05 p.m. (Iowa time).