Dec. 11, 2008
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by Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team has done its job so far in its two contests against in-state opponents. Iowa defeated Iowa State Dec. 7, and knocked off Northern Iowa tonight, 72-46, to move to 2-0 in intrastate battles, and improve to 6-4 overall. Iowa has held both in-state teams to 46 points in back-to-back games.
The Hawkeyes came into the game limiting their opponents to 35-percent shooting from the field, and were active on the defensive side early and often. Iowa blocked the Panthers’ first four attempts and also forced a shot clock violation. Holding UNI to 24.6-percent shooting and 46 points, tied a season-low in points for the Panthers. The Hawkeyes also forced 12 turnovers and blocked 10 shots, including five by Megan Skouby, which tied a career-high to go along with 20 points.
” I’m happy with the defense, especially in the first half,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “This game was so hard to get into a flow, there was so many fouls. That’s usually good for us since we’re such a good free-throw shooting team.”
The Hawkeyes shot 90 percent from the free throw line (27 of 30)
Kristi Smith got things going offensively for the Hawkeyes, as she came out firing. Smith scored eight of Iowa’s first 12 points including a nice step-back jumper that drew a foul which she converted for a three-point play, and a nice three-pointer in the corner off an assist from Kachine Alexander. Smith finished the game with 16 points and four assists.
“I think I got off to kind of a slow start this year, so in every game now, I’m just focusing on being more intense and creating shots for my teammates and myself,” said Smith.
After a nice spin move and layup by UNI to cut the Iowa lead to one, the Hawkeyes went on a 9-0 run, with JoAnn Hamlin scoring on back-to-back baskets underneath. Smith again hit from the outside with another nice step-back jumper in what was seemingly her trademark move for the evening to put the Hawkeyes up 25-16 with 2:40 left in the half.
With the shot clock and game clock winding down in the first half, Smith found Skouby at the top of the key and she buried a three-pointer with a little over 10 seconds remaining to give Iowa a 30-18 lead. Skouby then blocked the Panthers last shot attempt to send Iowa into the locker-room up 11.
UNI was able to get things going a little better in the second half. Nicole Clausen nailed a three-pointer for the Panthers who hoped to get things on track. Kamille Wahlin answered with a trey of her own at the top of the key off a nice feed from Smith to put Iowa up 44-32 with 11 minutes left. Wahlin showed her effort on the defensive side as well on the Panthers following possession. In an apparent mismatch, Wahlin was forced to cover a much taller UNI player down low. Wahlin was able to hold her ground and force a traveling violation to give the ball back to Iowa.
Smith took advantage and drove the ball strong to the basket and hit a contested layup while hitting the hardwood hard. She popped right up and trotted down court after giving Iowa a 48-34 lead. Hamlin picked up her fifth and final foul with 6:57 remaining in the game. She scored six points and had two blocks.
The Panthers were hanging within 12 with five minutes remaining before the Hawkeyes came through with what may have been the game-changing performance. After a missed shot by Iowa, Alexander fought through defenders to grab one of her game-high 12 rebounds. She immediately kicked the ball out to Smith who calmly nailed a three-pointer in the corner to give Iowa a commanding 58-43 lead, and closed the game on a 14-3 run.
“We know that no matter what happens to our offense, if we play solid defense, we can win basketball games,” said Bluder. “When we start clicking on both sides, we’re going to be an explosive basketball team. We just need to continue to do a good job on getting around those screens and communicating.”
The Hawkeyes travel to Des Moines for a matchup against Drake on Dec. 20 with tip-off slated for 11:05 a.m. inside the Knapp Center.