March 20, 2010
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By Richie Zawistowski
STANFORD, Calif. — One coach is the all-time leader in wins in University of Iowa women’s basketball history. The other coach is right behind in second place, although she was 0-2 in games against the aforementioned all-time leader.
Lisa Bluder notched her first win in three tries against former UI head coach C. Vivian Stringer, as Iowa defeated Rutgers, 70-63, in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament — its first tournament win since 2002 when it defeated Virginia.
Iowa had all five starters score in double figures, and is now 14-0 when four or more players score in double figures.
Kachine Alexander led the way with 18 points, and her typical game-high rebounds with eight, while also chipping in a team-high four assists. Alexander was followed in scoring by Jaime Printy and Kamille Wahlin who netted 15 points apiece. Wahlin played a huge role down the stretch, scoring nine straight points late in the second-half of the closely contested game.
“When I came out, coach Bluder said, `I need you, I need you,’ so I definitely got the message,” said Wahlin. “When I went back out there I kind of wanted to redeem myself, and I just really felt like we deserved this win and I really wanted to do this for my team. I felt Kelly (Krei) had a few huge rebounds there at the end so I think that really helped a lot.”
Morgan Johnson and Krei notched 12 and 10 points respectively, and Iowa out-rebounded Rutgers, 30-26.
Alexander took her defender off the dribble with a strong drive and finished with a tough contested layup starting Iowa off for a 2-0 lead.
Printy got into the mix for Iowa, draining consecutive 3’s and stretching the lead to 8-4 Iowa with 14:51 remaining.
Two free throws by Wahlin with 24 seconds left capped a 7-2 run to end the half for Iowa, sending the Hawkeyes into the break up, 27-21.
It was a defensive battle the entire first half that saw both teams shoot under 40 percent from the field, and Iowa shot just 18 percent from deep.
The second half started as a stark contrast to the first half, with Iowa cashing in on two consecutive 3’s pushing the Iowa cushion to 33-25 shortly in the second half. After shooting a dismal 2-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, Iowa shot a scorching 8-of-12 in the second-half, and 10-of-23 overall.
“When I came out, coach Bluder said, `I need you, I need you,’ so I definitely got the message,” said Wahlin. “When I went back out there I kind of wanted to redeem myself, and I just really felt like we deserved this win and I really wanted to do this for my team.”
Rutgers started to hit as well, hitting their first four shots of the second-half.
The Rutgers defense helped create good looks for its offense, as full-court pressure gave Iowa fits.
The pressure forced three Iowa turnovers in less than two minutes, allowing Rutgers to climb back into the lead, 40-37, with 14:12 remaining.
“I was a little disappointed in myself early on when they threw it on (full-court press) in the second half and took me out,” said Wahlin. “But I just calmed down, got my mind collected and just went back in there and started executing what we had practiced during the week.”
Rutgers went on an 11-2 run, before Alexander scored six points within 27 seconds on back-to-back deep balls, making the score, 46-44, with 11:43 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Rutgers was answered by Iowa, as it regained the lead by one after a trey from Krei, giving Iowa the 50-49 advantage with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Printy and Wahlin continued the Iowa success from deep as both buried 3-point field goals, the latter from Wahlin giving Iowa a three-point lead.
Rutgers answered and tied the game, but Wahlin answered again for Iowa. The 5-foot-9 guard attacked the basket, and in the process drew a foul while converting the tough layup. She converted the and-one opportunity giving Iowa a slim 60-56 lead with just 3:35 remaining.
Wahlin was not done, as the next time down the floor for the Hawkeyes buried yet another trey, giving her nine straight points for Iowa, in the midst of a 9-3 Hawkeye run.
The 3 was set up by penetration into the lane by Alexander, who drew the defense and kicked out to an open Wahlin in the corner who buried the shot, giving Iowa a 63-56 lead.
A bucket by Rutgers cut the Iowa lead to five, but Wahlin found a cutting Morgan Johnson for the layup, that pushed the Iowa cushion back to seven, 65-58.
Iowa converted its free throws down the stretch, and walked away with the 70-63 victory.
Iowa shot an outstanding 22-of-28 from the charity stripe, compared to just 6-of-12 for Rutgers. With the victory, Iowa will now play the winner between Stanford and California- Riverside on Monday evening. Stanford is considered the high favorite, as they are the number one seed in the region.
“We’re going to recoup from this game and stretch out the legs a bit,” said Wahlin. “We have to prepare, and watch game film, and be excited that we get to play again.”
“We’re just going to put in a game-plan that we think will have the most success against most likely Stanford and prepare like we always do,” said UI assistant coach Jenni Fitzgerald. “I don’t feel like we’re intimidated by anyone. They will go out there and do their best, fight, and make the Iowa fans proud.”