Dec. 11, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 24th-ranked University of Iowa women’s basketball team made all the winning plays in a 76-67 victory over Iowa State in an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup Thursday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“This was a fun, in-state game,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “We kept our focus the whole time, and our fans were great tonight. They did a great job of helping us stay energized in a really hard-fought game.”
The Hawkeyes controlled the game, leading for more than 38 minutes, but Iowa made the plays to withstand all of Iowa State’s rallying efforts.
After extending its lead to a game-high 10 points three minutes into the second half, Iowa State cut the deficit to 51-46 with 13:20 remaining. Iowa had its first answer, getting 3-pointers on consecutive possessions from Alexa Kastanek and Ally Disterhoft to open up a 57-48 lead with 11:16 left.
The Cyclones trimmed their deficit to six points at the 10-minute mark, and got to within 64-60 with seven minutes left, but junior Kali Peschel provided another dagger when she drained her third 3-pointer — a triple from the right corner with the shot clock winding down — to keep Iowa State at bay.
“They hit some big shots when they had to and that’s what good teams do,” said ISU head coach Bill Fennelly. “They made winning plays at winning times, and that’s to their credit.”
The Hawkeyes led 71-62 with 1:13 remaining before Iowa State made one final charge, cutting the deficit to 71-67 with 54 seconds remaining. The Cyclones didn’t get off a shot attempt until their final possession, as Iowa’s defense had three steals and Iowa made its free throws to seal the win.
After shooting 60 percent from the floor in the first half, Iowa cooled off, finishing with a 43.1 field goal percentage for the game. The Hawkeyes made 10-of-25 3-point attempts, including five from Peschel and Kastanek.
The Cyclones shot 36.2 percent from the floor and went 8-of-29 from 3-point range. Iowa State won the rebounding battle, 41-36, but Iowa closed the gap significantly after being out-rebounded 21-9 in the first half.
“In the first half we only had three offensive rebounds,” said Bluder. “In the second half, we had 11, and we needed to because we didn’t shoot the ball as well.”
Three Hawkeyes finished in double figures with Disterhoft leading the way with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Freshman Whitney Jennings had 15 points and three steals, and Peschel scored 13, including a career-high three 3-pointers. She also had a team-high seven rebounds.
“My teammates gave me an opportunity to take the shots I had tonight and it was nice to return the favor and give them the assist,” said Peschel. “We played great team basketball and the shots came and went down in our favor.”
Iowa State had three players reach double figures with Jadda Buckley leading all scorers with 25 points. She went 8-of-13 from the floor. Nikki Moody scored 12 and Nicole Blaskowsky added 11 off the bench. Moody and starting forward Brynn Williamson were in foul trouble throughout the game, combining for 47 minutes.
The Hawkeyes built a nine-point halftime lead after shooting 60 percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes. Iowa jumped out to a 16-9 lead seven minutes in before the Cyclones fought their way back to take their only lead at 23-22 lead on a Blaskowsky 3-pointer at the 5:26 mark. Iowa closed on the first half on a flurry, making its final eight shots to open up a 44-35 lead.
The Hawkeyes (8-2) will have a 10-day break before heading to Des Moines, Iowa, to face Drake on Dec. 21. A win would give Iowa the state title.