Let The Good Times Roll

Feb. 12, 2009

IOWA CITY, Iowa – This one was fun.

The University of Iowa women’s basketball team may not have needed a victory over Ohio State to edge closer to an invitation to this year’s NCAA Tournament. There are far too many games left to play to say one way or another.

However, there’s no doubt that a win Thursday night over the nationally ranked Buckeyes wouldn’t hurt the Hawkeyes’ chances of going dancin’come March Madness.

So, win the Hawkeyes did: Iowa 85. Ohio State 75.

“This is a great win for many reasons. We just beat the No. 1 team in our league and a nationally ranked opponent. We now have two wins over Top 25 teams. I can’t say how proud I am of this team and the determination and heart they played with tonight,” said Bluder, who was arguably most impressed with her team’s meager 13 turnovers against a Buckeye defense that is very salty.

How did the Hawkeyes do it?

They shot the lights out, inside the paint and out beyond the arc.

They crashed the boards.

They ran the floor.

They cashed in at the line.

They passed with a crispness that is the clear by-product of confidence.

The win was the first for Iowa’s seniors – Megan Skouby, Lindsey Nyenhuis, Kristi Smith, Wendy Ausdemore and Nicole VanderPol – in 11 tries against the Buckeyes, the team with whom the Hawkeyes shared last year’s regular season Big Ten title. They wouldn’t shy away from an opportunity for two in a row next month in Indianapolis at the 2009 Big Ten Tournament.

Ironically, the Hawkeye arguably providing the biggest spark was a newbie: Freshman guard Kamille Wahlin. The diminutive newcomer didn’t blink in her first date with the Buckeyes. The 5-foot-8 lefty scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, a total that included two buckets from behind the arc. Wahlin also dished out a team-high five assists and played a team-high 37 minutes.

“She showed absolutely no fear,” the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Shelly Till said of Wahlin’s performance shortly after Iowa had upped its records to 15-9 overall and 8-5 in Big Ten Conference play. The loss – Ohio State’s second in a row in league play – dropped the Buckeyes to 19-5 and 10-3.

“We have a great freshman guard in Kamille. I think she’s a tremendous young player who really played well both offensively and defensively tonight,” Bluder said of rookie.

Wahlin was one of four Hawkeyes to score in double-digits. Smith led the team with 20. Kachine Alexander had another monster game with 16 points – 14 from the charity stripe – to go along with a team-high 14 rebounds. Ausdemore added 14.

Skouby added nine points and Hannah Draxten seven off the bench for an Iowa team that has shrunk in depth because of injury.

Iowa shot 45 percent from the field, 45 percent from behind the arc and 81 percent from the stripe. The Hawkeyes scored 17 points off Buckeye turnovers, 15 on second-chance tries, and another 18 from inside the paint.

“Our victory over Iowa State was a pretty good one. This one was special because we knew what was at stake. We needed this one and we responded,” said the UI’s associate head coach, Jan Jensen.

“We responded to their pressure. We responded to their steal or fast-break lay-up or our turnover. We responded and we built some confidence. We took some tough shots and faced constant pressure. We might not have handled it picture perfect, but we handled it,” she added.

The Hawkeyes also forced 16 Ohio State turnovers (while committing only 13) and took full advantage of the Buckeyes’ inability to seize the opportunity at the charity stripe. OSU sank just three of nine free throw attempts.

Iowa will smile for the night, then turn its attention to Sunday’s game at Penn State. The Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena next Thursday night for a date with Wisconsin.