Nationally-Ranked Hawkeyes Suffer First Defeat
Dec. 2, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After falling behind by 20 in the first half, the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes fought back to within a single point twice in the second half, but it couldn't complete the comeback bid as No. 14 North Carolina went on to claim a 79-67 victory in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest.
"I am very proud of our team," said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. "We gave them the closest game they've seen so far this season on their home court. We beat them by three points in the second half. We could have hung our heads and gone home, but we battled back."
Trailing 42-22 with 3:17 remaining in the opening 20 minutes, the Hawkeyes slowly began their comeback. Iowa closed out the half with a 5-0 spurt to make the score 44-29 at the break. UI then stretched the run to 25-6 after scoring 20-of-the-first-26 points of the second half.
The Hawkeyes cut the Tar Heels' lead to single digits with four makes at the charity stripe before a Jaime Printy three-pointer trimmed the lead to 50-45 with 15:24 to play. Kelly Krei then followed with a long ball at the 12:06 mark - her first field goal of the game - to make the score 50-48. Morgan Johnson proceeded to bring Iowa within a single point at 50-49 after making 1-of-2 free throws with 11:13 to play.
North Carolina halted Iowa's momentum with a 10-0 spurt, which included back-to-back three-pointers by Italee Lucas, to push its advantage back to 11 points with 7:35 remaining. The Hawkeyes, however, kept battling.
Five straight points by Kamille Wahlin made the score 60-54 with 6:52 left. Following a Cetera DeGraffenreid free throw, Kelsey Cermak and Printy drained back-to-back long balls to make the score 61-60 and force a UNC timeout. The stop in play benefited the Tar Heels, as they responded with a 13-2 spurt to regain complete control of the contest.
North Carolina stormed out to a 24-11 lead in the first half, as the Hawkeyes made just five of their first 20 shot attempts. Things then got worse before they got better for Iowa, as the Tar Heels pushed their advantage to 17 (39-22) at the 3:59 mark before Latifah Coleman's three-pointer made the score 42-22 with 3:17 to go in the half.
"We lost our composure in the first half and we paid the price," said Bluder. "We had a little momentum heading into the break scoring five straight points. We couldn't get into a rhythm on offense because of our turnovers."
It was a bomb's away night for the Hawkeyes, as the squad attempted a school record 37 three-point field goals. The team connected on 11 long balls in the contest - its second straight game with 10 or more makes.
Three players finished in double digits on the night with Printy pacing the way with 17 points and seven assists. Johnson notched her fourth career double-double, finishing with 16 points and a career best 13 boards. UNC's Lucas led all scorers, netting 34 points on 14-of-21 shooting with six three-pointers.
Despite coming out on the losing end for the first time this season, Bluder and the Hawkeyes will use this game as a learning experience heading into a game against undefeated Kansas State in the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We wanted to win this game, but at the same time, when we got down, we could have limped our way through the remainder of the game," said Bluder. "I am really proud of our team for fighting back and making this a game."