Wire-to-wire win for Bluder's Bunch

Jan. 11, 2009

by Neal Wiebers

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa started hot and never looked back, turning back Minnesota, 74-57, on Sunday in Big Ten Conference women’s basketball inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes raced out of the gate, scoring the first nine points before Minnesota got on the scoreboard. Iowa would continue to apply pressure, pushing its lead to 13 points with just under eight minutes to play in the first half. The Hawkeye defense held the Gophers to 8 of 29 shooting from the field (27.6 percent), and went to the locker room ahead, 36-23, after 20 minutes.


With the win, Iowa improves to 9-7 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is 11-5, 3-2. The victory is the third in a row for the Hawkeyes against Minnesota and it also ended a three-game losing skid for the Hawkeyes.

“We had a tough stretch but this team stayed positive,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. ” We came in to practice this week and really practiced extremely hard. We knew that we played three on the road and I am happy with the way that we came out as a very confident team. We set the tone early with our defense and it set the tone for the whole game.”

The second half started much like the first — all Hawkeyes. Iowa made 15 of 23 field goals in the second half (65.2) from the field and 5 of 8 (62.5) from behind the three-point line, making it nearly impossible for Minnesota to get back into the game. While the offense was scorching, the black and gold defense remained stingy, holding Minnesota’s offense to 15 of 35 shooting. Wendy Ausdemore’s layup with 13:19 remaining stretched Iowa’s lead to 26 at 57-31.

The Hawkeyes were led by an outstanding individual performance from junior forward JoAnn Hamlin, who paced the team with 21 points — 13 coming in the first half. Hamlin also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds on her way to her fourth double-double of the season.

“You would like to win every game but coming off three losses, we really wanted to get back on a winning streak at home,” Hamlin said. “We looked at last year and we were in the same position so we knew that we could turn it around.”

UI senior guard Kristi Smith scored 20 points on 7 for 10 shooting, including five three-pointers. Sophomore guard Kachine Alexander also played a well-rounded game, netting 10 points and dishing out a game-high seven assists.

“We just had to stay positive,” Smith said. “We know that we are a good team and just needed to block out all the outside influence and stick together. We have practiced intense and hard and we wanted to come out and get a good win.”

The Gophers held advantages in rebounding (42-27) and bench points (25-10). Iowa’s starters averaged nearly 31 minutes of playing time per person.

The Hawkeyes will look to even their conference record when they resume play Thursday, Jan. 15, at Illinois. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from Assembly Hall.