Iowa serves up an upset special, 85-75
Feb. 12, 2009
by Richie Zawistowski
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa guards Kachine Alexander and Kristi Smith combined to sink 24 of 28 free throws and the Hawkeyes held a seven-rebound advantage during an 85-75 upset victory over No. 13 Ohio State on Thursday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It is the first win by Iowa in the series in the last 11 outings.
The Hawkeyes, who built a 14-point lead (62-48) following a layup by freshman Hannah Draxten with 11 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game, improved to 15-9 overall, 8-5 in the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State fell to 19-5, 10-3.
Just seven Iowa players saw action and four of them scored in double figures. Guards Smith, freshman Kamille Wahlin and Alexander combined for 55 points. Smith scored a team-high 20 points and made all 10 free throws. Wahlin added 19 points with five assists and Alexander posted a double-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. Forward Wendy Ausdemore scored 14 points for the Hawkeyes.
Not only did Iowa attempt 23 more free throws than the Buckeyes, but the Hawkeyes shot 81.3-percent from the line (26 of 32). Ohio State made just 3 of 9 free throws.
Buckeye center Jantel Lavender made 15 of 21 field goals and finished with a game-high 32 points. She also pulled down 10 rebounds. Iowa won the battle of the boards, 42-35.
Last year, the two teams shared a championship. On Thursday, the Hawkeyes were the only team celebrating. It was the first and only regular-season matchup between the two teams. Iowa's 85 points are the most scored in regulation by any opponent this season against Ohio State. The 10-point win bucked a trend against the Buckeyes of 10 straight losses dating back to January of 2002.
"(Lavender) is an amazing player," said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. "As long as we win, she could have 50, I don't really care. We tried to slow her down with our zone and get some extra help around her, but she's an outstanding player and still ended up with 32.
"This is obviously a big win for us. Indiana lost tonight, which bumps us up to fifth place. It's a top-20 win which is huge for the selection committee as it proves we are able to compete against the top teams in the country. I'm proud of our women for coming into this game extremely focused. We rebounded well and our balanced scoring was the key to this win."
The Hawkeyes took their first lead of the game off a three-pointer from Ausdemore to grab a 6-5 edge two minutes into the game. Iowa shot 45.5-percent from deep, up from their 35-percent for the season. Ohio State used a 14-4 run to seize the lead from the Hawkeyes at 32-27. The Hawkeyes clearly got the message and responded immediately.
Ausdemore nailed another three while cutting the deficit to three at 34-31 with 5:12 remaining. Alexander then regained the lead for Iowa while netting two shots from the charity stripe to give Iowa a one point advantage at 35-34. The Hawkeyes would never trail again. Alexander had a Carver-Hawkeye record for a Hawkeye for both free throws made and attempted as she went 14-18 from the line, while scoring 16 points.
Ausdemore had the play of the day as she shook her defender out of her shoes with a beautiful up-and-under head fake and laid the ball in for an easy two points. This gave Iowa the lead 39-34 with 3:09 remaining.
Iowa was used stellar defense to lock down on Ohio State, forcing the Buckeyes into 16 turnovers and holding them scoreless for the final 3:09 of the first half. Wahlin capped a game-changing 20-2 run for Iowa by pulling up and dropping in a 15-footer to send Iowa into the locker room with a commanding 47-34 lead.
"I didn't want the half to end," said Bluder. "I wanted to just keep going. Things were clicking pretty well for us. We shot 57-percent from the field in the first half. I just didn't want to have that break in the momentum."
Wahlin put her coach to ease, as she started the second half where she left off in the first. Wahlin opened the second half for the Hawkeyes with a nice baseline drive to put it in for two with a defender in her face for a 49-36 Hawkeyes lead. Ohio State made several pushes to get back into the game. The Buckeyes cut the lead to seven, but Hannah Draxton responded for the Hawkeyes. She hit a layup and then a three-pointer the next time down the court to give Iowa a double-digit lead again at 58-46 with 13:37 remaining.
The Buckeyes would again cut the lead to seven, and again the Hawkeyes would answer as Draxton found Smith for a layup and Alexander hit another two free-throws to give Iowa an 11 point lead 68-57 with 8 minutes left.
Draxton left the game with an ankle injury at 4:44 while drawing a charging foul on Ohio State. She did not return.
"It looks like everything is going to be fine," said Bluder. "We don't know how sore she's going to be, but there is no damage."
Ohio State was able to climb within five at 75-50 with 1:38 remaining, but the Hawkeyes were able to hit their free throws, as they have done all season, and capture a 10-point victory over the No. 13 Buckeyes. Iowa converted on 26-32 (81-percent) from the line, and currently lead the Big Ten in free-throw percentage at 79 percent.
"We knew we could come out and beat them," said Smith. "We just had to come out and prove it to everybody."
JoAnn Hamlin made her first appearance for Iowa after missing the last five games. She played 18 minutes.
The Hawkeyes move ahead of previously defeated Indiana for fifth place. Iowa will travel to Penn State on Sunday with a tip-off scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (Iowa time).