Balanced Attack Leads Iowa Past Illini, 80-69
Jan. 30, 2011
By ADAM MEIER
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- All five Iowa starters scored in double figures Sunday afternoon in Champaign, helping the Hawkeyes to an 80-69 victory over the Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall.
The 18th-ranked Hawkeyes made eight of their 12 3-point attempts and shot 52 percent overall from the field, helping them improve to 17-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Iowa's shooting percentage was a season high.
"Any time you win on the road in the Big Ten it's a big win for your program," head coach Lisa Bluder said following the win. "I'm happy with the win. I'm happy with the balance we had. We love having five players in double figures."
Kachine Alexander led the Hawkeyes with 19 points, while Jamie Printy and Morgan Johnson each had 17. Johnson also pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked four shots for her sixth double-double of the season. Kamille Wahlin scored 13 and Kelly Krei added 11. Wahlin and Krei combined for six of nine shooting from long range distance.
"I love the balance of our team," Bluder said. "That's kind of been our calling card all year. That's something we really rely on and is not unusual to see."
It marks the second time this season that Iowa had five players score double figures. The Hawkeyes also had five players score 10 or more points against Bradley on Nov. 16.
Poor shooting doomed the Illini, as they made five of 24 from beyond the arc and 27-77 (35 percent) overall, dropping them to 7-15 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten.
A fast-paced first half was highlighted by a 11-0 Hawkeye run, which gave Iowa a 24-15 lead with 8:53 to go in the period. A 3-pointer by Krei a minute later gave the Hawkeyes their biggest lead of the half with 7:49 to go at 27-17.
Illinois clawed its way back into the game, going on a 14-2 run to capture the lead with just over four minutes left in the half. Two Johnson free throws right before the break gave the Hawkeyes a 40-39 advantage at intermission. Iowa never trailed again.
Both teams came out of the locker room sluggish after the frantic first half, combining for just two field goals in the first four minutes of the second period.
The game remained close throughout the second half but Iowa's perfect 5-for-5 shooting from downtown helped them maintain a lead for the rest of the game. Solid defense and good free throw shooting down the stretch was too much for the Fighting Illini to overcome.
"I thought our zone defense was pretty good in the second half," Bluder said. "We did a good job of moving in the zone and we had a couple of traps which I think made them a little bit nervous. They didn't hit many outside shots against our zone."
Despite a promotion for free admission, the Hawkeye faithful outshined the hometown Illini fans, as two full busloads dressed in black and gold were loud and proud in support of their team.
"We brought a lot of people over here from Iowa City," Bluder said. "We've got a lot of great fans and I wanted to get involved in the game and they did their job. We want to play hard for our fans and we wanted to give them a win. The players all acknowledged them after the game and that was really cool to see."
The Hawkeyes stay on the road as they travel to West Lafayette, Ind., on Thursday, Feb. 3. Tipoff against Purdue is slated for 5:30 p.m. (CT). Some milestones are near for two Hawkeyes: Alexander needs two assists to become the first player in Iowa history and the only the fourth player in Big Ten history to have 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists; Wahlin needs 23 points to become the 28th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club.