Jan. 15, 2009
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by Sean Neugent
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team got off to a quick start and never looked back as it went on to beat Illinois 72-62 inside Assembly Hall on Thursday evening.
The Hawkeyes, 10-7 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten Conference play, shot 26 of 52 (50 percent) from the floor and drained 10 of 16 (63 percent) three-point goals. Iowa had plenty of open looks and solid passing helped the Hawkeyes to 21 assists to just eight turnovers. The Fighting Illini could not find their rhythm, shooting 22 of 65 (34 percent) from the field and 1 of 7 (14 percent) from three-point range.
“We just have to find a way and do a better job of not just one way of boxing out but crashing the boards, too,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We only got four offensive rebounds out of 30 opportunities — that is just not enough.”
UI seniors Megan Skouby and Kristi Smith combined to hit 38 of the Hawkeyes’ 72 points. Skouby had the game-high with 21 points to Smith’s 17. Freshman Kamille Wahlin added 12 points. Iowa had a tough time containing Illinois’ Jenna Smith who had a double-double with 18 points and 18 rebounds.
“I think Kristi (Smith) has played very well in the last four games,” Bluder said. “I love the way she is shooting the ball with confidence right now — 5-for-6 from three-point range. She ended up with 17 points and five assists to zero turnovers. Kristi had a really nice game tonight. Megan didn’t shy away, she took the ball in their strong against Jenna Smith, their outstanding player and she had 21 points and seven rebounds.”
The Hawkeyes were able to get off to a quick start when junior JoAnn Hamlin nailed a jumper for the first points of the contest. Skouby followed Hamlin up with a jumper of her own on the ensuing possession.
A few minutes later Smith helped Iowa pull away even more hitting back to back treys to take a 12-5 lead with 17:07 remaining in the half. Illinois cut Iowa’s lead to 12-10 with a few free throws from Lacey Simpson.
The Hawkeyes, 10-7 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten Conference play, shot 26 of 52 (50 percent) from the floor and drained 10 of 16 (63 percent) three-point goals. Iowa had plenty of open looks and solid passing helped the Hawkeyes to 21 assists to just eight turnovers.
The Hawkeyes cashed in on the three-ball and began to pull away from the Fighting Illini. Senior Wendy Ausdemore sank a trey for her first points of the contest to help the Hawkeyes take a 17-10 lead. A few possessions later, Skouby drilled a deep three and Smith followed suit with one of her own on a fastbreak for a 23-13 lead with 9:57 left in the half.
The seniors weren’t the only ones to enjoy the long range jumper when freshman Hannah Draxton drained one of her own for a 14-point lead as the Hawkeyes enjoyed a 10-0 run. That was the last basket the Hawkeyes would see for six minutes. The Fighting Illini took advantage of Iowa’s drought cutting the lead to 27-21.
Smith hit another trey with 1:59 remaining in the half to end Iowa’s drought. The Hawkeyes went into the locker room leading 30-23, thanks in part from an astounding 7 of 9 from three-point range.
Sophomore Kachine Alexander played tough in the paint, grabbing eight of her 10 boards in the first half to go along with four assists. Alexander finished with nine assists.
“Kachine Alexander had 10 rebounds, nine assists and only one turnover,” Bluder said. “Kachine did a nice job. She scored only six points but she does so many other things for us.”
The Hawkeyes started off the second half nearly the same as the first with Hamlin and Skouby with two quick back to back jumpers to regain a ten-point lead.
Illinois trimmed Iowa’s lead to five before the Hawkeyes, in a flash, went back up 40-29 with 16:08 left in the game.
It was all Hawkeyes from that point on as they were able to put the game away early.
Iowa had trouble in the rebounding department, but sharp three point-shooting made up for it as the Hawkeyes continued to torch the Fighting Illini. After treys from Smith, Ausdemore and Draxton, Skouby went on to make the next six points for the Hawkeyes to make it 60-44 with 6:37 remaining in the game.
The pesky Illini never gave up and trimmed at one point a 17-point lead to 13, 62-49, before Kamille Wahlin hit back to back buckets. The Fighting Illini kept pushing and made a late run to cut the Hawkeyes lead to eight, 68-60, but free throws from Wahlin sealed the game.
“Kamille is playing a lot of minutes because she is backing up Kristi as a one and Kachine as a two,” Bluder said. “She was 4-for-5 shooting tonight and 4-for-5 from the free throw line. I love to see how strong she took that ball to the hole. Her jump shot looked so pretty and smooth when she took it up there and I would love to see Kamille shoot the ball with that kind of confidence because she is so capable.”
The Hawkeyes will come back home to face Northwestern on Sunday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. tipoff.