Feb. 18, 2010
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By Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team can put one more victory behind it in the day-by-day approach to the rest of the season.
Iowa started hot, stayed hot, and focused on the task at hand, getting its seventh win in the last eight tries as they posted a 75-54 victory over Minnesota on Thursday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes, who have been employing a one-game-at-a-time mentality, won their fifth consecutive game inside the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and improved to 15-11 overall, 8-7 in Big Ten play.
The Hawkeyes shot a scorching 63 percent in the first half, and nearly scored as many points in the first half (50) as Minnesota scored in the entire game (54).
“I thought we played another really good first half,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “I just thought that our offense was clicking, and defensively, we surprised them a little bit with our aggressiveness to begin this game. I love the four players in double figures, the balanced scoring.”
While the shots were dropping, Iowa also played dominating defense, as Morgan Johnson notched a team-record with eight blocked shots, while Iowa also set a new record with 13 blocks as a unit.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for me,” said Johnson. “It’s one of my jobs in the paint to stop penetration and I do that by blocking shots. “I’ve learned a lot throughout the year on how to alter shots.”
“Morgan has done a great an outstanding job all year with blocked shots,” said Bluder. “Morgan does a great job, she’s 6-foot-5 but she uses her height so well, she goes up straight. A lot of players have a tendency to swing through and volleyball spike it, but when she blocks the shot, often times they stay in bounds or she blocks them back to herself because she has such great technique”
Native Minnesotans Kamille Wahlin and Kachine Alexander led Iowa past the Gophers as Wahlin’s 15 points tied Jaime Printy for the team high, and Alexander led the game with 17 boards and seven assists. Alexander is currently second in the Big Ten in rebounds, and is looking for the top spot.
“I’m trying to work for that number one spot in the Big Ten in rebounding, that’s my goal,” said Alexander. Iowa was plus-15 on the glass over Minnesota, notching a 48-33 margin.
Minnesota, which defeated Iowa 72-69 in overtime on Jan. 3 in Minneapolis, is now 12-14, 5-10.
Kelly Krei got the Hawkeyes on the board early with a fast-break bucket off a feed from Alexander to put Iowa up 2-0 early on.
Later, Wahlin stopped-and-popped a deep 3 in transition, putting Iowa ahead 11-3 and forcing Minnesota to call a timeout four minutes into the game.
Iowa seemingly made it rain from deep at will, as they drained 8-of-13 3’s in the first half, including three consecutive shots from deep, during a key 21-4 run, that saw Iowa spring ahead for a 34-12 lead.
Six minutes before the half, Iowa displayed beautiful ball movement, as everyone touched the ball before Gabby Machado was found slashing the lane and finished with a layup, giving Iowa a 20-point lead, 38-18.
Iowa continued their hot play for the rest of the half, as they went into the locker room up 50-28.
Iowa picked up right where it left off in the first, as Printy hit a deep 3 to get things underway in the second half, putting Iowa ahead, 53-30.
Iowa hit a bit of a cold stretch, as the Hawkeyes scored just six points during a six-minute span in the second half, but excellent defense stopped Minnesota from getting any closer than 13. The Hawkeyes held Minnesota to just 11 points over the last 14 minutes of the game.
“I thought our defense was pretty good in this game,” Bluder said. “We played a little bit more man-to-man than we have in the past and it was nice. I thought we contained the drive pretty well tonight. We didn’t let them get to the free throw line tonight either.”
Iowa will travel to Evanston, Ill., to take on Northwestern on Sunday, Feb. 21, before coming back to Iowa City for the last home game of the season against Indiana on Feb. 25.
“Next Thursday we host Indiana at 7 o’clock, it’s our last home game,” Bluder said. “It’s hard to believe we’re talking about the end of the year already, but we’re just trying to focus on Northwestern right now. Hopefully we’ll have a great crowd since it’s the last opportunity to see us on our home court next Thursday.”