What's Next? The Championship Game


March 6, 2010

Box Score | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2 | Post-Game Quotes in PDF Format

By Richie Zawistowski

INDIANAPOLIS – With just seven seconds remaining, Kachine Alexander lay at half-court, blood coming from her lip. Two crucial free-throws awaited her.

The team’s emotional leader then picked herself up, dusted herself off, and cashed in two clutch free-throws securing a 59-54 victory over Michigan State, sending Iowa to the Big Ten Tournament Championship. Alexander played her best when it mattered most, scoring 10 of the team’s final 13 points.

“That was a hard fought game, and Kachine Alexander is one of the toughest kids I know,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “For her go up and take that much contact and make those free-throws is absolutely amazing, she’s tough as nails. She leads with so much passion, and so much emotion.”

The game was a battle the entire contest that saw Iowa turn the ball over 22 times, but clutch play from their leaders down the stretch eventually pushed Iowa past Michigan State.

Alexander led the team with 14 points, four dimes, and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Kamille Wahlin netted 13 including a crucial three, and freshman Trisha Nesbitt chipped in a career-high 10 points. Morgan Johnson had a game-high 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive end.

Iowa shot just 36-percent from the floor, but forced Michigan State into 21 turnovers of their own, and out-rebounded the Spartans 31-28. Iowa also shot 92.9-percent from the line (13-of-14).

The tone was set defensively right from the start, as Krei had a great steal on Michigan State’s opening possession leading to the breakaway layup giving the Hawkeyes a 2-0 lead early.

A trey by Michigan State gave the Spartans their first lead since early, 18-17 with around 6 minutes remaining.

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans 1st 2nd Final
Iowa Hawkeyes (Record) 25 34 59
Michigan State Spartans (Record) 26 28 54
Statistical Leaders
Points: Kachine Alexander (Iowa) 14 | Aisha Jefferson (Michigan State) 23
Rebounds: Morgan Johnson (Iowa) 11 | Cetera Washington (Michigan State) 6
Assists: Kachine Alexander (Iowa) 4. | Kalisha Keane (Michigan State) 3

Nesbitt answered for Iowa as she knifed into the lane in traffic and layed it in for 19-17 Iowa lead with 4:52 left.

Morgan Johnson had her shot blocked by Michigan State with no time remaining, and Iowa went into the break trailing 26-25.

The second-half kicked off for Iowa with Wahlin giving a nice up and under move off the glass to which gave Iowa a one point lead to kick off the second half.

Iowa moved very well on defense and got in front of Michigan State on several opportunities drawing charging fouls.

Unfortunately Iowa would plague themselves with sloppy ball control and turn the ball over five times during a following four-minute span.

Michigan State took advantage and after a pair of free-throws and a jumper, the game was tied at 44-44.

Johnson broke Iowa out of its funk with a layin off a Jaime Printy miss making the score 46-44 with 7:09 remaining.

Michigan State climbed back into the lead shortly before Alexander calmly sank two from the charity stripe tying the game at 48 with just under six remaining. Alexander wasn’t done though, as she hustled and grabbed an offensive rebound followed with the layup underneath to give Iowa the lead again 50-48 with 5:10 remaining.

Michigan State answered with a pull-up jumper from the elbow that tied the game at 50 with 2:53 left, but Iowa answered with Printy finding Alexander slashing to the basket, hitting the layup for a two-point cushion.

Michigan State answered yet again, tying the score at 52.

They say big players make big plays, and Wahlin and Alexander apparently got the memo. Wahlin hit a deep three breaking the tie and putting Iowa ahead by three, 55-52 with just over a minute remaining.

On the next possession a Spartan three from the corner rimed out giving Iowa the ball back.

Alexander then shook her defender at the top of the key and drove the ball, and while she missed the short shot, got her own rebound and was fouled. She hit the free-throws putting Iowa ahead by five with just 21 seconds remaining.

Michigan State would not go away however and after an offensive rebound, hit a shot underneath making it a one-possession game with just 12 seconds left.

After the inbounds, Alexander crossed mid-court and looked to pass the ball to a teammate. A Michigan State defender came flying at her, sending her hard to the ground and splitting her lip. After lying on the ground in pain, Alexander stepped up and calmly cashed in both from the charity stripe, sealing the 59-54 victory for Iowa.

Iowa will play the winner of Wisconsin and Ohio State tomorrow in the Big Ten Championship, with tip-off scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Iowa time.

For a team that started the season 1-6 in conference play, the Hawkeyes has shown tremendous character and effort to play their way into a potential championship.

“We’re excited about playing in the championship tomorrow,” said Bluder. “For our program to come this far in seven weeks, those women in the locker-room are amazing.”