Nov. 14, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa –The Iowa women’s basketball team began the 2009-10 season with a different look than they expected only a week ago. The Hawkeyes faced off against Santa Clara at noon in the opening game of the KCRG-TV Hawkeye Challenge at Carver-Hawkeye Arena without senior center JoAnn Hamlin or sophomore forward Hannah Draxten. Although they lost a significant amount of experience due to injury, Iowa was able to defeat the Broncos handily, 67-51.
Hamlin was hospitalized last Sunday with a blood clot in her right leg. Her status is indefinite as the clot is so serious that it could threaten her ability to play this season, or ever again. She is still in intensive care. Draxten received an injection in her lower back after suffered a herniated disc and will be sidelined until at least Wednesday.
Morgan Johnson replaced Hamlin in the post while Jamie Printy took over for Draxten on the wing. Sophomore Kamille Wahlin and junior Kachine Alexander started at guard while sophomore Kelly Krei rounded out the lineup at the other forward spot.
After maintaining a slight edge for the majority of the first half, Iowa went on an 8-0 run to open an11-point lead with seven minutes and three seconds remaining following a transition lay-up by Wahlin. The fast break came off of one of 13 turnovers forced by the Hawkeyes in the first half. While Iowa had four steals, the Broncos were their own worst enemy as they were repeatedly called for traveling.
Santa Clara answered with their own 9-0 run and came within two points of evening the score four minutes and seventeen seconds before the break. Iowa was able to increase their lead to five points, up 31-26 at the half.
Johnson was a bright spot for the Hawkeyes. She filled in well for Iowa’s eldest member, scoring 13 of her 15 points on 6 of 11 attempts in the opening period.
“I thought Morgan did a nice job in her first start at the center position. She shot the ball well, she rebounded well, so I was very pleased with her play,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.
Johnson’s teammates did not have as much success finding the bottom of the net, as Iowa shot only 35-percent from the field in the first half. Points off turnovers and second chance points accounted for 16 points – over half of Iowa’s first half output.
Despite those numbers, Johnson gave all the credited her success to the women around her.
“I draw a lot from my teammates. They’re just great people and they’ve helped me to do what I could do today,” said Johnson.
Iowa’s first half shooting woes were nowhere to be seen after the break. Alexander came out strong, amassing double-double in the second half alone. She totaled 19 points and 18 rebounds, helping Iowa out-rebound Santa Clara 29 to 14 in the second half.
“I was pleased with our rebounding today. I thought we did a good job on the boards. Kachine was spectacular, once again. When she does that it just energizes our whole team,” said Bluder.
Alexander’s 18 rebounds tied a Hawkeye Challenge tournament record set in 1985.
“All the coaches have been telling me, `Just try to get in their and get some rebounds, maybe get a few tips.’ You never know what’s going to happen,” said Alexander.
The Hawkeyes shot over 40-percent in the second period, as they steadily built a hefty lead. By scoring consistently and holding Santa Clara to 33-percent shooting, Iowa led by as many as 24 points with nine minutes and 31 seconds remaining. Bluder’s half-time talk targeted Bronco guard Alyssa Shoji, who was 5 for 7 in the first half for 13 points.
“We talked a lot about containing number 10. She had half their points, including three threes. We talked about locating her in the second half.” Shoji had only three points in second half and misfired on all of her three-point attempts. The Hawkeyes’ typically shoot well from downtown, but their defense and rebounding won them the game today. Iowa shot only 18-percent from beyond the arc, but that won’t change Bluder’s future game plans.
“I think you have to win in a variety of ways. We didn’t drop them tonight, but we are a three point shooting team so we will continue to fire away.”