Nov. 18, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Throw out the first four minutes or the final six and the University of Iowa women’s basketball team is celebrating its first victory over a nationally ranked opponent since last February.
Instead, the Hawkeyes battled hard before falling 66-55 to Kansas, ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press poll, on Wednesday. It is Iowa’s first loss in three outings this season.
“I thought we played pretty well, we just ran out of gas the last six minutes,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Kansas is a great team and they’ll do terrific. I don’t feel like this was an 11-point differential.”
The Hawkeyes trailed 11-0 after the first 4:01, but tied the score, 13-13, on a three-point field goal by Kachine Alexander with 11:51 left in the half. There were four more ties in a first half that saw Iowa snag a 24-21 advantage on a layup by Alexander with 2:10 left before the break.
While Kansas had five players score 10 or more points, Alexander was the only Hawkeye in double figures with 23 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and a steal in 36 minutes.
“I just try to do as much for my team as possible,” Alexander said. “I was just trying to do what I could for my team.”
A turn-around jumper by Johnson off an assist from Jaime Printy with 6:41 left in the game gave the Hawkeyes a 54-51 lead. They would stay in front until Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich spun through the lane and made a layup in the paint with 5:51 remaining. The Jayhawks went on an 11-1 run from that point to improve to 2-0 overall.
“I’m proud to bring a good team in here, be competitive and get out with a W,” Kansas head coach Bonnie Hendrickson said. Hendrickson was an assistant coach at Iowa for two seasons from 1994-96. “I have fond memories of here.”
Hendrickson referred to Alexander as a “match-up nightmare.” It was Alexander — not Kansas preseason All-American candidate Danielle McCray — who captured game-high scoring honors. McCray led the Jayhawks with 20 points.
Iowa missed its first nine shots, but never gave up and slowly clawed its way back into the game. Alexander broke the ice for the Hawkeyes with a layup that triggered an 8-0 scoring run. Included in that flurry was a conventional three-point play by Alexander, a three-point field goal by Wahlin and a layup by Wahlin with an assist from Alexander.
“It comes down to heart,” Johnson said. “We could either give up or try harder. We tried harder.”
Printy led the Hawkeyes with five assists.
During the dreaded final six minutes, the Hawkeyes were 0 of 6 from the field and 1 of 3 from the line with five turnovers.
“This is a good growing experience for our team,” Bluder said. “You can’t lose your focus and I feel we lost our focus a little bit. I’m proud of this team. For them to continue to persevere is remarkable. It’s a great lesson for anybody. We’ll be stronger because of these situations.”
Bluder continues to be impressed by the quality minutes off the bench being received from junior Kelsey Cermak. In 16 minutes, Cermak was 1 of 2 from the field with a rebound and a steal.
“Kelsey is doing a very nice job for us,” Bluder said.
Iowa will have its first road experience of the season Sunday when the Hawkeyes travel to in-state rival Northern Iowa with a 3 p.m. tipoff from the McLeod Center.