Feb. 19, 2009
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by Sean Neugent
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A feast of second-half free throws and a solid defensive showing helped the University of Iowa women’s basketball team thwart Wisconsin, 72-65, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night.
Iowa (17-9 overall, 10-5 Big Ten Conference) shot 24 of 42 (57 percent) from the field, 4 of 9 (44 percent) from three-point range, and 20 of 24 (83 percent) from the free throw line. Wisconsin (15-12, 5-11), was 27 of 62 (44 percent) from the floor, 6 of 13 (46 percent) from behind the arc, and 5 of 9 (56 percent) from the charity stripe. Iowa held a 35-22 rebounding edge.
The Hawkeyes and Badgers both distributed the ball, as each team had its entire starting lineups score in double figures. Iowa was led by Wendy Ausdemore, Kachine Alexander, and Megan Skouby who each scored 15 points. Kristi Smith added 13 and Kamille Wahlin hit for 10 points. Alexander had a double-double as she also grabbed 12 boards. Skouby had nine and Wahlin collected eight rebounds. The Badgers were led by Teah Gant with 15 points, Alyssa Karel had 14, Tara Steinbauer with 13 and added 15 rebounds, Lin Zastrow had 11, and Rae Lin D’Alie added 10.
In the first half, the Badgers were able to get on the board first, but the Hawkeyes went on to score the next six points in three straight possessions. Wisconsin was called for a travelling and Iowa was able to take advantage when Smith hit a mid-range jumper. The Badgers responded, but Wahlin drilled a three-pointer to move ahead 11-6.
D’Alie tied it after she drilled a trifecta with 12:24 remaining in the half. The Badgers then forced two consecutive Hawkeye turnovers for four fast-break points for a 17-13 advantage. Iowa tied it back up, but Wisconsin quickly regained footing and took a five-point lead. The Hawkeyes went on a little run that was capped off with an Alexander layup that knotted the score up at 25-25.
Iowa fouled on the Badgers’ ensuing possession and sent Alyssa Karel to the line as she made one of two from the line. The Hawkeyes followed that up with a jumper from the hands of Ausdemore to take the lead before Wisconsin stole the lead right back in the back-and-forth battle. The Hawkeyes went into halftime trailing, 32-30.
“A big difference is that we got the free throw line the second half. First half we shot two free throws, second half we shot 22 free throws. That was a big difference. We got to the double bonus real early and that was a huge benefit to us, obviously because we had 24 free throws to their nine. We are a good free throw shooting team; we are No. 4 in the country right now and we want to get to the free throw line.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder
“I thought our energy level wasn’t as good to begin this game,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But, I felt we picked it up in the second half. We had a strong start to the second half, defense was much better, we shot the ball well the whole game, and we rebounded well the whole game.”
“We talked in the locker room at halftime that we need to come out with more energy and intensity and be the aggressors on the court,” Ausdemore said. “I think we responded well to that.”
Skouby was able to tie it back up on the Hawkeyes first possession of the second half on the strength of two free throws. Ausdemore followed it up with two consecutive jumpers for the lead. As the Hawkeyes heated up, the Badgers went ice cold. Iowa’s stingy defense held Wisconsin scoreless for the first 5:18 of the second half.
The Hawkeyes were up by as much as nine before the Badgers came storming back. Wisconsin cut it to two before Smith drilled a trey at the top of the key. Iowa pushed their lead to nine with several free throws. The Badgers had a tough time handling Iowa’s offense as they continually pushed the ball inside, which helped get them to the bonus early. The Hawkeyes hit 18 free throws in the second half.
“A big difference is that we got the free throw line the second half,” Bluder said. “First half we shot two free throws, second half we shot 22 free throws. That was a big difference. We got to the double bonus real early and that was a huge benefit to us, obviously because we had 24 free throws to their nine. We are a good free throw shooting team; we are No. 4 in the country right now and we want to get to the free throw line.”
With 6-minutes remaining, Ausdemore hit a long-range jumper to give the Hawkeyes a 58-48 lead. Thrifty ball work helped take the Badgers out of it with baskets from Alexander, Ausdemore, and Smith for a 64-50 advantage.
Iowa coasted on cruise control from there, but Wisconsin was able to chop into the 14-point deficit with the help of a few Hawkeyes turnovers. The Hawkeyes continued to drain their free throws to ice the game.
Iowa will head to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Sunday with a 1:05 p.m. tipoff.
“We know what is at stake the next two games,” Smith said. “We’ve been talking about it a lot lately so we know what we need to do.”