Nov. 3, 2013
After a nifty exhibition warmup, the University of Iowa women's basketball team appears more than ready to open the season for real Friday against UC Riverside in the first round of the Hawkeye Challenge.
The Hawkeyes defeated Concordia (Minn.) University 92-68 on Sunday, making 36-of-63 from the field with 26 assists.
"We pushed the ball well," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "We shot the ball well, we shared the ball extremely well. Time after time I saw our team passing the ball for just a little bit better shot, and that is exactly what we want them to do. We have 26 assists on 36 goals and that is very good. I'm so happy with the way we came out the first day, but excited for Friday against Cal Riverside."
Iowa had three players score in double figures, led by junior center Bethany Doolittle with 20 points. She made 10-of-16 field goals with five rebounds. Junior guard Melissa Dixon added 18 points by making 6-of-8 field goals -- four of those coming from 3-point range. Thirty-three seconds into the game, Dixon had two 3-point baskets and the Golden Bears were forced to call a timeout, already in a 6-0 hole.
"That's what we had drawn up and it worked out really well for us," Bluder said.
The performance by the freshmen was one of the main things Bluder wanted to see in the exhibition. The other was to see how much production the Hawkeyes would get from their three-headed monster of Disterhoft, starting sophomore Kali Peschel and sophomore Claire Till.
"To see how Ally and Alexa would do in their (first games) as freshmen coming in for the first time," Bluder said. "We're working with the (power forward) position. I thought they all brought something different. I thought Kali, Claire and Ally all brought something different at the four. I think that's good for us."
Peschel, Till, and Disterhoft combined for 29 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists.
Till was the leading rebounder for the Hawkeyes with nine. Iowa won the rebounding battle, 42-37, but the Hawkeyes allowed 15 offensive rebounds.
"We gave up too many offensive boards. We need to be more physical on the box out and we'll work on it tomorrow in practice," Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes extended its lead to 35 points (81-46) with 9:27 left in the game on a made free throw by Kastanek.
A dose of bad news for Iowa was the fact sophomore center Nicole Smith was limited to three minutes of playing time. She scored two points and grabbed two rebounds before leaving.
"We had a doctor look at her, and they feel that her knee could not go any more today," Bluder said. "They will evaluate it more, have X rays (Monday) and we'll see where it goes."
Concordia was paced by Anika Whiting with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Golden Bears made 38.9 percent from the field.
One of the assistant coaches for Concordia is Kachine Alexander who starred for the Hawkeyes from 2008-11. Despite playing guard, Alexander is second on Iowa's all-time rebounding list with 910. She is 19th in career scoring with 1,239 points.
"It's great to see her going to coaching," Bluder said. "I love to see our young women go on into this career, it's a wonderful career. I'm glad that they enjoy their experience so much that they want to continue in basketball and continue giving back to the game. Kachine always had a tremendous basketball mind. She loved learning about the game and she is going to be a tremendous coach."
Iowa and UC Riverside are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on Nov. 8 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.