Dec. 17, 2011
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PEORIA, Ill. — An overpowering effort by University of Iowa junior center Morgan Johnson wasn’t enough to slow Bradley on Saturday during a 96-88 women’s basketball victory by the host Braves at Renaissance Coliseum.
Johnson scored a career-high 37 points by making 13-of-20 field goals and 11-of-12 free throws. Her scoring output was nearly matched by Bradley guard Kelsey Budd, who entered the game averaging 4.5 points per game, but finished with 31 points, including 19 in the first half.
“Morgan Johnson plays extremely well in this game, it’s just too bad when you have a career high not to let it go down in the win column,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes (6-5 overall) used a strong rally late in the game to close within six points with 21 and 15 seconds to play, but they couldn’t halt a three-game winning streak by the Braves (8-3).
The highest-percentage shots for Bradley came from beyond 3-point range. The Braves made 13-of-22 from beyond the arc, while Iowa finished 3-of-15 from long range (0-of-9 in the second half). What makes Bradley’s hot shooting more of a mystery is that the Braves were just 1-2 at home this season before Saturday’s contest.
“Bradley was unconscious but I don’t think we closed out as hard as we could have in our zone defense,” Bluder said. “They were in a zone, they were feeling it. They make 13 3s, we make three, that’s the difference in this game. You have to be incredibly aggressive when you’re guarding 3-point shooters and we were not that way (Saturday).”
The brightest spots for the Hawkeyes came in the second half when they shot 52.9 percent from the field and scored 54 points — all without a 3-point field goal. Johnson netted 23 points during the final 20 minutes on 8-of-9 shooting from the field; she made all seven free throw attempts. Kamille Wahlin added 18 points by making 8-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line. Combined in the second half, Johnson and Wahlin made 16-of-19 field goals, 9-of-9 free throws for 41 of Iowa’s 54 points.
Wahlin finished with 18 points and six assists; junior guard Jaime Printy added seven points, seven assists and five steals.
Bradley swiped nine steals and benefitted from 13 Hawkeye turnovers to grab a 40-34 lead at halftime. The surprising star for the Braves was Budd. She was nearly unstoppable during the first 20 minutes, scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field (2-of-2 from 3-point range).
Johnson led Iowa with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. The Hawkeyes made 11-of-27 from the field in the first half (40.7 percent) and 9-of-11 from the line (81.8). They made 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
Iowa held a 19-17 edge in total rebounds. Throw out Budd’s hot hand and the rest of the Bradley team shot 30.4 percent from the field in the first half (7-of-23).
Three players on Bradley’s roster played their high school ball in the state of Iowa. Those players combined to scored 25 points and pull down seven rebounds.
The Hawkeyes return to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for three straight games beginning Tuesday, Dec. 20, against Drake. They also host Mississippi State (Dec. 22) before opening the Big Ten Conference season Dec. 30 against Northwestern.
“We have to focus on Drake,” Bluder said. “And in my mind we have to continue talking about boxing out and we have to be a better defensive team. You can win a lot of games scoring 88 points, but you’re not going to win any games letting the opponent (score) 96.”