Alexander Overcomes Fouls to Spark Hawkeyes

March 5, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS – The University of Iowa women’s basketball team took a step back in time Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse during its 82-75 victory over Penn State in the Hawkeyes’ debut performance in the 2010 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament. They didn’t go back too far, just late November and early December 2009.

The Hawkeyes played seven games from Nov. 22 to Dec. 10 without Kachine Alexander when the dynamic junior hurt an ankle and was assigned a chair at the end of the bench. Bluder’s Bunch lost four of those games and three of those losses were by 3, 5 and 3 points.

Friday, Alexander was whistled for her second foul just four minutes into the visit to Indy. Iowa was ahead 9-6 when Alexander was, again, assigned a seat on the pine. She watched with nervous energy as the Nittany Lions climbed over a six-point UI lead to take a 32-30 advantage into intermission.

“We came into the locker room and said, `Hey guys, this is great. We didn’t have our scoring leader and our rebounding leader and we’re only down by 2.’ We felt like we won the half,” said Bluder.

“Then, in the second half, you saw what Kachine Alexander means to this team.”

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions 1st 2nd Final
Iowa Hawkeyes (18-12) 30 52 82
Penn State (17-13) 32 43 75
Statistical Leaders
Points: Jaime Printy (Iowa), 22 | Tyra Grant (Penn State) 32
Rebounds: Jaime Printy (Iowa), Kamille Wahlin (Iowa) 6 | Tyra Grant (Penn State) 9
Assists: Jaime Printy (Iowa), Kamille Wahlin (Iowa), 5 | Emily Phillips (Penn State) 2

Alexander was back in the Hawkeye lineup when the second half of the quarterfinal game started – and that signaled the end of the visit to Indianapolis for Penn State. Kash’s presence and energy – two outstanding characteristics of this particular leader for Lisa Bluder – triggered a 26-13 run for the Hawkeyes that gave the No. 3 seed a 54-45 lead with 11:32 to play.

Six of those 26 points were by Alexander. But, again, this time, the contributions of the Hawkeyes’ queen of the double-double were less numerical and more emotional. And that emotion triggered a brilliant offensive performance for the Hawkeyes.

14 minutes into the second half, Iowa was hitting field goals at a clip that was better than 70 percent – a 40 percent improvement over the first period. They also sank five of their first eight attempts from the behind the arc en route to a 10-point lead at 63-53 with 3:39 left to play.

“There’s no doubt what Kash brings to our team. It’s the emotion she brings and the passion she plays with,” said Bluder.

“Our offense did not run in sync in the first half. In the second, with Kash on the floor, we were in sync to the point where we had five players in double digits. I’ll take that every day.”

Iowa now will turn its attention to the Michigan State Spartans. The teams will square off at 4 p.m. Iowa time Saturday in the first of two semifinal games. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 77-66, on Feb. 7 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the only game between the two teams this season. The Hawkeyes were paced by Alexander, who scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Alexander was one of five Hawkeyes to score in double-digits against the Spartans. Kamille Wahlin, Kelly Krei, Jaime Printy, and Morgan Johnson followed in the UI scoring column with 14, 14, 11 and 10, respectively.

“We’ll come in confident. We’ll come out and play hard,” said Bluder, the 2010 Big Ten Coach of the Year.