Nov. 30, 2011
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By MICHELE DANNO
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A milestone victory.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team finished with the upper hand in a grueling defensive battle Wednesday, knocking off Virginia Tech, 58-47, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa is 5-2, the Hokies are 2-5.
The win is the first ever for the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, snapping a string of four consecutive setbacks. Neither the Hawkeyes nor Hokies held a substantial lead until Iowa went ahead by 11 with 42 seconds to play.
“This win feels good because we haven’t really done our part in this Big Ten/ACC Challenge over the past four years,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It feels really good to come home and get this win. It wasn’t the prettiest victory, and we won with some unusual ways for us.”
After losing to Iowa 72-43 in their 2010 meeting, the Hokies took the floor with a vengeance and completely strangled the Hawkeyes at the 3-point line — shots the Hawkeyes are used to relying on. Iowa senior Morgan Johnson called it the worst start of her career, missing nine of her first attempted shots.
A string of turnovers, jump balls, and blocked shots made for a scoreless game for the first 4 ½ minutes of play, until Iowa senior Kelly Krei’s layup at the 15:31 mark broke the scoring silence.
Virginia Tech’s Kelsey Conyer had the first of 11 fouls for the Hokies in the first half, sending Johnson to the line to bring Iowa to a 4-0 lead.
Luckily for the Hawkeyes, they were able to profit off the Hokies’ errors. Johnson scored only seven points in the first half, five of which were at the free-throw line.
The teams remained closely matched throughout the first half, exchanging turnovers and fouls before Hawkeyes Samantha Logic and Jaime Printy stole the score with a string of free throws within the last two minutes of the half brining the score to 27-23 heading into the break.
Between their 10 turnovers and 11 fouls, the Hokies had nearly as many errors as points heading into the second half. Still, the Hawkeyes focused on their own game.
“Virginia Tech was really concentrating on taking away our 3-point shots and just giving us the inside game,” Bluder said. “You have to keep going to it, you just have to when you have those high percentage shots. I told them that at halftime hey the good news is that were getting good shots.
“Statistically its going turn around you have to keep hammering at it. I’m proud of the way our team kept feeding Morgan and Morgan had the confidence to keep shooting it.”
Iowa slipped a little in the beginning of the second half, allowing the Hokies a six-point scoring streak to take the lead to 29-27 within the first two minutes. A layup by Printy tied up the score and gave the Hawkeyes the momentum they needed.
Johnson took control with three consecutive layups, holding Virginia Tech to 29, and giving Iowa an eight-point lead with 12:09 left on the clock.
Krei brought the crowd to its feet with one of Iowa’s two 3-pointers, bringing the score to 43-38. From then, Johnson helped the Hawkeyes hold a consistent lead over the Hokies and solidified their 58-47 victory.
Johnson had 16 points in the second half (7-of-11 from the field), and credited her teammates’ locker room pep talk for her reemergence on the court.
“When I went in the locker room, the first thing all my teammates said is `Morgan, you’re better than what you’re showing right now,” Johnson said after the game. “They let me know that I’m a better player than what I did in the first half. My coaches had a big part in that also. The confidence they instilled in me just made me feel a lot better. I went in [the second half] with more confidence and relaxed a bit and hit my shots.”
Bluder said the Virginia Tech game should help the Hawkeyes going forward, and she hopes they take what they learn from tonight into Saturday’s contest at Kansas State.
“It’s nice to know that we can win games without producing as well from three-point range,” Bluder said. “But quite honestly that’s a big part of who we are. We need to find that identity again because we need to have that balanced inside/outside scoring attack. I still believe we have the right shooters, and I believe they’re going to get the job done.”
Johnson scored 23 points with eight rebounds. Printy scored nine points with five rebounds and Samantha Logic added eight points with seven rebounds and five assists.
While Iowa was held to just 2-of-15 from the 3-point line, the Hawkeyes made 16-of-20 from the free throw line. Iowa also held an edge in rebounding (47-38).
Aerial Wilson paced Virginia Tech with 18 points, Monet Tellier added 16.