Feb. 23, 2012
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By ADAM MEIER
EVANSTON, Ill. — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team didn’t need luck during its 70-63 win at Northwestern on Thursday; just clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.
The Hawkeyes iced their seventh consecutive victory by converting 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the final minute at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston.
Samantha Logic scored 17 points with 10 rebounds and five assists to lead Iowa into seventh heaven.
It is the seventh win in a row for the Hawkeyes, who improve to 18-10 overall, 10-5 in the Big Ten Conference.
Morgan Johnson scored a game-high 18 points for the Hawkeyes on 7-of-17 shooting from the field; Kamille Wahlin added 14 points and sank 4-of-8 3-point field goals, and Kelly Krei chipped in with 11 points, three coming at the end of the first half to give Iowa a 38-22 lead.
“We made clutch free throws and we maintained a calm presence at the end of the game when we had to,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said.
Logic made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch.
“For a freshman to step up in that kind of a situation is really good,” Bluder added. “We were actually trying to get the ball in Kamille’s (Wahlin) hands, but Northwestern did a good job of denying her. I’m really happy for Sam and the way she stepped up in that situation.”
After leading by 16 points at the half, Iowa’s offense sputtered and allowed the Wildcats to slowly claw their way back into the game.
“Our second half wasn’t as good,” Bluder said. “We weren’t as sharp; we didn’t rebound as well as we could have; we didn’t play as good of defense. “
The Hawkeyes made just four field goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half, allowing Northwestern to cut the lead to four points with 9:39 left in the game. Krei denied the Wildcats from getting any closer by pulling the trigger on a long 3-pointer from the top of the key that extended the lead to 52-45.
Later, Johnson converted offense put-backs on consecutive possessions, building the lead to 58-47 with 7:19 left.
The Hawkeyes maintained a lead for the remainder of the game, and when Northwestern threatened in the final minute, Iowa was able to ice the game away at the foul line.
Both squads started the game sluggishly, but while the Wildcats failed to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half, Iowa got itself together and exploded on a 19-3 run over the final five minutes of the period.
With the game tied at 19, Logic knocked down a jumper to give the Hawkeyes a two-point lead with 5:02 left in the first half. After Johnson made two free throws that extended the lead to four, Wahlin and freshman Melissa Dixon nailed consecutive 3-pointers that pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead to 29-19 with 3:12 remaining in the half.
Soon after, Logic made a 3-pointer of her own and Johnson followed with a basket from the low post that gave Iowa a 35-22 lead with just over a minute until halftime.
Krei capped the Hawkeyes’ furious run by hitting a long ball with 27 seconds left in the half that gave Iowa a 38-22 lead at halftime.
“I was really happy with the 3-point shooting by Kelly,” Bluder said. “For Kelly Krei to get her 3-point shot back going into the end of the season will give our team a lot more confidence.”
Krei finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists and shot 3-of-7 from 3-point distance.
Northwestern drops to 14-14 overall and 4-11 in conference play. The Hawkeyes go for their eighth consecutive win on Sunday in their regular-season finale against Michigan. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“If we win, I think we finished tied for third (in the Big Ten),” Bluder said. “We know Michigan’s going to give us a battle. Defensively, they give us some problems. It’s going to be an emotional game, but we have to set that aside, play the game first, then give all the attention to those five seniors who really deserve it.”