Jan. 24, 2010
By Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Made free throws and scrappy defense allowed the University of Iowa women's basketball team to climb back to .500 and pick up its third win in Big Ten Conference, 78-69, against Northwestern on Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa shot 37 free throws, capitalizing on 31 of them, and forced Northwestern into 20 turnovers, turning the extra possessions into 22 points. Four Hawkeyes scored in double figures, led by Jaime Printy with 23 points, followed by Kamille Wahlin with 16.
Iowa improved to 10-10 overall, 3-6 in the Big Ten; Northwestern is 11-7, 3-5.
"This is a good win for us," said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. "I thought our team played with great composure when we got nine points down, and I thought we just kept chipping away at that. Obviously we took advantage of getting to the free throw line, and we shot the ball extremely well from the free throw line."
Both teams came out firing from deep as 15 of the game's first 23 points were scored from beyond the arc. Northwestern jumped to a three-point lead early, 13-10, five minutes into the game.
"We're known for hitting [three's] and I think teams come in here pretty prepared for us hitting a lot of three's," said Bluder. "But definitely when you hit three's it opens things up inside."
After an extended official's timeout, Wahlin came out and hit an 18-footer at the end of the shot clock, followed by a fast break lay in by Morgan Johnson to put Iowa on top 26-21 with 10:15 remaining.
Later, Gabby Machado stole the ball, pushed it ahead to Wahlin who, while running the break, threaded a dime to Kachine Alexander who hit the layup, plus the foul. She would convert the "and-one" opportunity to put Iowa up 31-30 with 7:21 remaining in the half.
Machado was not done however, as she caught a tipped pass near the free throw line, drove in and with a beautiful spin to the left and finished with the left hand to make it 33-30 in favor of Iowa with 3:29 left.
Iowa held Northwestern to a 5-minute scoring drought, allowing Iowa to jump out to a 36-30 lead, minutes before the half. However, Northwestern closed the half on an 8-0 scoring run, to go into the break leading, 38-36.
Wahlin came out of the break and hit an elbow jumper to tie the game at 38-38, 30 seconds into the half, yet Northwestern would stretch its lead to nine, 54-45.
Kelly Krei hit a free throw to tie the game at 56 with 9:26 remaining and the next time down the floor would again hit the charity stripe, knocking down both to give Iowa a 58-56 lead, its first lead since the first half.
The Krei free throws sparked a game-changing 11-1 run, and allowed the Hawkeyes to break the game open.
It feels good to get two in a row," said Wahlin. "I think it's going to help our confidence and we're going to keep building off of this."
Iowa won at Illinois, 75-64, on Jan. 21.
Krei was hardly finished, as she then drained a 3-pointer the next time down the floor to give Iowa a five-point lead 61-56, and force Northwestern to call timeout with 8:12 remaining.
Krei was again at it making plays, this time on the defensive end. A steal gave Iowa the ball back, and Machado hit Alexander underneath for a tough lay in for another and-one opportunity, which she again converted.
The Hawkeyes displayed more stellar defense, as during a three-minute span in the second half, Iowa stole the ball or forced a Northwestern turnover on five different occasions.
"In the second half, our zone was much better," said Bluder. "We were a little more aggressive, and it enabled us to put a little more help on (Northwestern's Amy) Jaeschke, which you really have to have."
Alexander led the way with four steals total, and had two during the span, including a steal and coast-to-coast layup to stretch the lead to nine, 70-61, with 5:19 left. Iowa would never lead by less than seven for the remainder of the contest.
The Hawkeyes host Purdue on Jan. 31 inside Carver-Hawkeye Areana, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m.
"We have Purdue coming up at home," said Bluder. "These are great opportunities and we have to keep improving. We have a young team and you do see remarkable improvement throughout the year."