One More Opportunity, Please

March 9, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the March 8 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Do you think Bluder’s Bunch would be asking too much of the NCAA Division I Selection Committee to not only extend them an at-large invitation to the Big Dance – an invitation that they have earned – but to also give them a line on that 64-team bracket that gives them another crack at the Ohio State Buckeyes?

One day removed from the disappointment that was the 2010 Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game, it wouldn’t surprise any fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the least if Lisa Bluder, her staff and her squad would be so bold to make that request.

The Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes have played twice this season so far. Iowa lost by four in early February in Columbus to the 2010 Big Ten Conference regular season champions.

The two teams worked their way through the bracket in Indianapolis to square off again Sunday afternoon on a neutral court, the Conseco Fiedhouse, where Bluder’s Bunch took the margin and cut it in half.

It was a disappointing outcome for Bluder because she knew that her squad had let a golden opportunity slip through its fingers.

“I don’t think we built enough of a lead at halftime, quite honestly,” she told the media that assembled for the post-game chat. The Hawkeyes took a 41-33 advantage into the locker room at intermission. And Iowa’s veteran head coach was right: It could have been more.

Iowa had forced 11 Buckeye turnovers in the first 20 minutes. They also took seven more shots at the basket. They played with the poise and the confidence of a team that continues to get better and better and better.

“We should have built a bigger lead with their two guns on the bench,” the Big Ten Coach of the Year added.

“We should have built a bigger lead with their two guns on the bench.”
Lisa Bluder

Bluder knew what the Buckeyes would do in the second half. They would pound it inside, pound it inside, pound it inside. And they did.

Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender played all 20 minutes, took 15 shots and scored 23 points. She ended the game with a game-high 35 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. She was also perfect on seven attempts from the charity stripe.

“She’s the (Big Ten) player of the year for a reason and she showed it tonight,” Bluder said. “I just feel bad for my team.”

Bad enough, probably, to want one more shot at the Buckeyes.