Free (Throw) Ride to Preseason WNIT Semis

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Nov. 11, 2012

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team shot free throws and saved its legs Sunday while advancing to the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT with a 74-64 victory against Illinois State on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes (2-0 overall) made 32 of 41 free throws and led by 22 points (72-50) with 3:20 left in the game. Twelve Hawkeyes saw action, and nine played at least 15 minutes.

Perhaps the best news of the afternoon came in the form of a postgame announcement: Iowa will host Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. (CT).

“Any time you play at your home court, it’s an advantage,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We want to get as comfortable as possible, playing on our home court, and not having to travel. Just saving our legs this time of year is nice not having to travel. It’s fun that we get to play on our home court and share this with our fans.”

UI senior center Morgan Johnson played 30 minutes against Illinois State, scoring 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the line. She grabbed nine rebounds with five blocked shots and made 12 consecutive free throws. Junior guard Theairra Taylor posted her first career double-double with 11 rebounds and 10 points. She handed out a team-high five assists.

Ball distribution was an area that pleased Bluder.

1st 2nd Final
Illinois State (1-1) 29 35 64
Iowa (2-0)
39 35 74
? Box Score | Attendance: 2,930
Statistical Leaders
? Morgan Johnson — 24 points, 9 rebs, 5 blocks
? Theairra Taylor — 10 points, 11 rebs, 5 assists
? Bethany Doolittle — 8 points, 5 rebs, 2 blocks
Stats at a Glance
Ill St Iowa
FG Percentage 32.9 35.2
3-Point FG Percentage 14.3 33.3
FT Percentage 57.1 78.0
Total Rebounds 44 50
Points in the Paint 24 22
Points off Turnovers 20 18

“We had 18 assists on 19 field goals, which is a pretty impressive number,” Bluder said.

Illinois State (1-1) finished with six more field goals than the Hawkeyes (25 to 19), but Iowa thrived from the line, compliments of 27 Redbird fouls. Nine Hawkeyes shot free throws, with Samantha Logic (4-of-4), Melissa Dixon (2-of-2), and Claire Till (2-of-2) turning in perfect efforts.

“We shot free throws better tonight than we did against Northern Illinois, and it’s a good thing, because we were there so many times,” Bluder said. “It was a game where there were so many fouls called that I don’t think any team could get in the thick of things, so it became a free throw shooting contest, and we’re a good free throw shooting team.”

Iowa was 6-of-10 from the line in a season-opening 63-40 win against Northern Illinois on Nov. 9.

The Hawkeyes advance to the Preseason WNIT semifinals despite getting one point in 15 minutes from all-conference performer Jaime Printy, and a six-point, six-turnover effort from Logic. Logic pulled down five rebounds and handed out four assists with two steals.

The physical style wasn’t beneficial to Printy, who is returning from ACL repair and an aggravated hamstring.

“She took a couple of lumps out there, took some bumps; it shook her up a little bit,” Bluder said of Printy. “She will bounce back Wednesday, I know that about Jaime. I feel like I’ve got to go with what she does in practice instead of one game, and I feel like she is doing great in practice. I feel like she’s going to be fine for us in the long run.”

Iowa shot 35.2 percent from the field (19-of-54) and held an edge in rebounding of six (50 to 44). The Hawkeyes blocked 10 shots — five by Johnson, who is now four away from the school record in that category.

Illinois State was led by Jamie Russell with 30 points, 12 rebounds and eight steals. She is a transfer from the University of Wisconsin.

Middle Tennessee State defeated Kennesaw State, 87-45, on Friday and Memphis, 82-68, on Sunday.

“Middle Tennessee is obviously going to be a tough opponent for us,” Bluder said. “They were in the NCAA Tournament last year, they have a good team, and I’m glad to have them on our home court.”