Nov. 30, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa senior Kali Peschel strolled into the interview room Monday with a reminder of how difficult it is playing three basketball games in three days.
She received a shiner to her left eye, compliments of a player from George Washington, on her birthday Nov. 27. The “gift” occurred during the second of three games at the Lone Star Showcase in Austin, Texas, where the Hawkeyes won their bracket with a 2-1 record.
“I got a nice fist to the face,” Peschel said.
But Peschel and the No. 21 Hawkeyes (6-1 overall) proved they could take a punch. After defeating Wright State, 83-77, on Nov. 26, they fell to No. 20 George Washington, 81-77 (in a controversial double overtime battle), then climbed off the canvas to knock off Houston, 64-50, and claim the bracket championship.
“We battled well in Austin, especially against a talented George Washington team,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “There were heads hanging after that. I said ‘Do not hang your heads, you guys played your hearts out, we should have won this game, we all know that.’
“I am happy with their effort. They are working extremely hard and we have a lot to be happy about.”
The controversy against the Colonials began with 2.5 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 64. Iowa executed an in-bounds play and junior Alexa Kastanek was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.5 seconds in the game. Instead of allowing Kastanek to shoot three free throws, the officials waved the foul off and sent the game to overtime.
“I have had every official evaluator explain to me that they misapplied the rule, but unfortunately you can’t go back and get the win,” Bluder said.
Instead, the Hawkeyes gutted out a 14-point victory 20 hours later against Houston before flying home and enjoying an entire Sunday to themselves.
“We battled well in Austin, especially against a talented George Washington team. There were heads hanging after that. I said `Do not hang your heads, you guys played your hearts out, we should have won this game, we all know that.'”
UI basketball coach
“We traveled Saturday right after our game, so being able to be home (Sunday) and not doing a whole lot was nice,” Peschel said. “Hopefully we can get our legs back underneath us — the starters played a lot of minutes and a few off the bench did too.”
Iowa will play its fifth straight game away from home Wednesday against Virginia (5-2) in Charlottesville, Virginia as part of the B1G/ACC Challenge.
The Cavaliers opened the season with five wins, then dropped games to Rutgers and Tulane in the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
It will be another learning opportunity for a young Hawkeye team that boasts three players averaging double figures in points: junior Ally Disterhoft (15.9 points per game), Kastanek (12.3), and sophomore Chase Coley (11.6). Freshman Megan Gustafson averages 9.3 points per game, Peschel 8.4, and sophomore Whitney Jennings 8.0.
Another bright spot is sophomore Carly Mohns, who emerged in the Lone Star Showcase. Mohns played seven minutes against Wright State and grabbed three rebounds. She played 17 minutes against George Washington and scored two points. Then, against Houston, Mohns played 19 minutes, scored 11 points and pulled down three boards.
“We have pretty balanced scoring, that is always good to see,” Bluder said. “Carly Mohns came in and played well for us, that was a real bright spot. Our inside game has proven itself through these first seven games. Chase and Megan have shown they are going to be OK.”
Every Hawkeye, from seniors down to rookies, received a taste of what playing on short rest in tournaments is all about.
“It is good preparation for Big Ten,” Peschel said. “Every team in our conference is physical and every game will be a good game, there will not be an easy team. This weekend we didn’t play easy teams, we had tough, physical games.”
And Peschel said the team took away that it has a lot to learn — and that isn’t a bad thing.
“That leaves room for improvement for us and that is huge, being as young as we are,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do, but that is a good thing.”
The Hawkeyes and Virginia tip off at 6 p.m. (CT) from John Paul Jones Arena.