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The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) travel to Cancun, Mexico, this week to compete in the Caribbean Challenge. Iowa will face Mississippi State (4-0) Thursday (Thanksgiving) at 12:35 p.m. and nationally-ranked Arizona State (2-1) Friday at 3:35 p.m. Both games will be played at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun. This will be Iowa's first-ever trip to Mexico.
ON THE RADIO
Brent Balbinot and Shelley Till will call both Hawkeye games at the Caribbean Challenge for the Hawkeye Radio Network. Hawkeye fans can listen to the contest on WHO 1040-AM in Des Moines, WMT 600-AM in Cedar Rapids and KXIC 800-AM in Iowa City. Balbinot is in his fourth season as Iowa's play-by-play voice, while Till is in her third providing analysis.
Iowa has played 941 games since beginning basketball in 1974. Overall, Iowa's record is 571-370 (.607). That includes a 283-141 (.667) mark in Big Ten games and a 261-78 (.770) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa has never faced Mississippi State or Arizona State. The Hawkeyes are 9-16 (.360) against Southeastern teams and 10-6 (.625) against Pac-10 squads.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State won its first four games (SE Louisiana, Centenary, Belmont and Mercer) by an average score of 22.0 points. The Lady Bulldogs are 4-0 for the first time since 1999. Mississippi State returns 12 letterwinners, including all five starters from a team that went 18-14 last season and finished sixth in the Southeastern Conference. The Lady Bulldogs finished last season with an RPI of 90.
Alexis Rack ranks first in team scoring (13.3) and second in assists (3.3). Tysheka Grimes ranks second in scoring (11.0) and rebounding (6.8). Imesia Jackson, who was named to the pre-season all-SEC second team, ranks first in rebounding (8.0) and fourth in scoring (9.8). Mississippi State has 16 players that have played at least two games this year.
The Lady Bulldogs outrebounded their opposition by a +9.8 margin through four games. Mississippi State shoots only 23.9 percent (17-71) from 3-point range and 64.2 percent (61-95) from the foul line. Rack has made 11 (11-34, .324) of its 17 triples.
After playing Iowa, Mississippi State will play nationally-ranked Oklahoma Friday in Cancun.
Sharon Fanning has been a collegiate head coach for 32 years (521-387, .574), including 13 seasons with the Lady Bulldogs (198-161, .552).
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
Arizona State was ranked 14th in the USA Today poll and 15th by the Associated Press last week. The Sun Devils lost their season opener at nationally-ranked North Carolina, Nov. 11. Arizona State rebounded with impressive home wins against UC Santa Barbara and, most recently, Yale on Monday.
Arizona State junior guard Briann January was one of five players named to the pre-season all-Pac-10 team. January is coming off a season in which she earned all-Pac-10 honorable mention laurels in helping lead the Sun Devils to a school-record 31 wins and their first Elite Eight appearance in school history.
Danielle Orsillo scored a career-high 21 points in the opening loss to North Carolina, but injured her left knee and will be out at least a month. Jill Noe averages 9.7 points and 5.0 rebounds, while January averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 assists through three contests.
Arizona State plays nationally-ranked Oklahoma Thursday before playting Iowa Friday in Cancun.
Charli Turner Thorne is in her 15th season as a head coach (245-175, .583) and her 12th with Arizona State (205-135, .603). She has guided the Sun Devils to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including three straight.
IOWA, CARIBBEAN CHALLENGE NOTES
Iowa is 54-25 (.684) in non-conference contests under Coach Bluder.
After two games, Iowa was 16-27 (.593) from the foul line. The Hawkeyes converted a blistering 27-31 (.871) from the charity stripe in their win at UNI Sunday raising their season average to .741 (43-58).
The Hawkeyes are 22-4 (.846) in holiday tournaments under Coach Bluder. Iowa has captured nine of the 13 tournaments it has competed in the last seven seasons. The Hawkeyes have won their own Hawkeye Challenge five times and have also won the Great Alaska Shootout (2001), FIU Thanksgiving Classic (2002), Junkanoo Jam (2004) and WBCA Classic (2006).
Junior point guard Kristi Smith is the only Hawkeye to have scored double figures in Iowa's first three contests.
Iowa has had a different leading scorer its first three games. Wendy Ausdemore and Kristi Smith netted 12 vs. Dartmouth, Megan Skouby had 19 vs. Drake, while Johanna Solverson registered 17 at Northern Iowa.
Iowa and Mississippi State will play one common opponent this season: Georgia Tech.
Iowa is 105-12 when leading at the half in eight years under Coach Bluder. Iowa is 85-15 when holding opponents to 69 points or less, including a 36-1 mark when opponents score 59 points or less.
Megan Skouby (91) is only three blocks from matching fourth-place Jaime Cavey's total of 94 on Iowa's career blocks list. Johanna Solverson (832) is only 19 points from equaling 26th-place Lynn Kennedy's total of 851 on the Hawkeyes' career scoring chart. Wendy Ausdemore is only four triples from tying Tiffany Reedy's seventh-place mark of 93 career 3-pointers.
Iowa has won two contests against in-state rivals (Drake and UNI). The Hawkeyes will gun for the mythical state title when it competes at Iowa State, Dec. 5.
Both Iowa and its opponents have recorded 112 rebounds through three games.
IOWA WINS AT NORTHERN IOWA
Iowa led by as many as 14 points in the second half and held on to defeat Northern Iowa, 77-67, Sunday at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The Hawkeyes saw a 14-point second-half cushion evaporate as the Panthers took a one-point lead (66-65) with 6:30 left. However, Iowa rallied and secured its third victory of the season at the free throw line. The Hawkeyes outscored UNI 27-14 at the charity stripe.
Iowa held Northern Iowa without a field goal the last 7:57 of the game en route to victory.
Iowa's bench produced 36 of its 77 points, led by seniors Johanna Solverson (17) and Stacy Schlapkohl (12). Also contributing double figures were junior starters Megan Skouby (13) and Kristi Smith (11).
Iowa shot 51.1 percent (23-45) from the field, including 60.7 percent (17-28) in the first half. UNI shot 37.5 percent (21-56) from the floor. Thirty-one of the Panthers' 56 field goal attempts were 3-point attempts.
The Hawkeyes had the advantage in the post, outscoring the Panthers 24-16 in the paint.
LAST OUTING TIP-INS
Sunday's victory improved Iowa's record to 3-0 for the second consecutive year. The win also improved the Hawkeyes' all-time record against Northern Iowa to 11-2.
All three Iowa victories this season have been by double digits.
Iowa has recorded 17 blocks, while its opponents have rejected only four through three contests.
Iowa won the game at the free throw line, converting a blistering 27-31 (.871) from the foul line. The Hawkeyes were 20-23 (.870) from the charity stripe in the second half, including 10-12 (.830) the final five minutes.
Iowa started the game red-hot from the field, making 14 of its first 21 field goal attempts (.667). Likewise, Northern Iowa was scorching hot from the floor, making six of its first 12 three-point tries (.500).
Iowa, a team that averaged 61.5 points through its first two games, put up 44 in the first half. The Hawkeyes shot a season-best 60.7 percent (17-28) from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
Iowa built its largest lead of the game (56-42) at the 13:30 mark of the second half. The Panthers answered with a 24-9 surge, including a 9-0 run in 90 seconds, to reclaim the lead (66-65) at the 6:30 mark.
In addition to her game-high 17 points, Johanna Solverson pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, all defensive.
Stacy Schlapkohl reached double figures for the first time this year. The senior was a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, all in thwe second half. She equaled a career high in free throws made.
Iowa's first three opponents were plagued by poor field goal shooting: Dartmouth (27.8%), Drake (26.2%) and Northern Iowa (37.5%).
BLUDER APPROACHES MILESTONE
Head Coach Lisa Bluder, the dean of the Big Ten coaches, is only 14 victories (485) from reaching her 500th career win. Bluder amassed 127 wins at St. Ambrose (1984-1990), 187 victories at Drake (1990-2000) and 130 triumphs at Iowa (2000-07).
Iowa has been picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten by a selected media panel and seventh by the league coaches. Ohio State, a team that has won outright or shared the last three regular season conference titles, is picked to win its fourth straight. Wisconsin senior Jolene Anderson was selected as the pre-season Player of the Year by both voting groups.
The Hawkeyes could play 22 of 29 regular season games against teams that competed in 2007 post-season tournaments, including seven that participated in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will play 18 games (two exhibitions) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the most regular season home contests in school history. Iowa will only leave the state twice the first two months of the season (at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, November 22-23 and at Michigan, December 30). Additionally, Iowa will have a 12-day layoff between games in mid-December (Dec. 9-22).
Four of Iowa's opponents this season are ranked in pre-season publications (Arizona State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin). Arizona State (12), Ohio State (16), Michigan State (18) and Purdue (20) are ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Pre-season poll.
HAWKEYES PEN FIVE TO NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT
Hannah Draxten, Shante Jones, Kelly Krei, Tia Mays and Kamille Wahlin have signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa.
"This is a large balanced class that covers every position," said Bluder. "We are proud to sign two Iowa student-athletes, two of Minnesota's top recruits and an outstanding player from Ohio."
Draxten, a 6-0 wing player, has been a varsity starter since eighth grade, starting in 104 consecutive games for Fergus Falls High School in Minnesota. She has been the team's leading scorer all four years. A two-year team captain, Draxten holds the all-time Fergus Falls High School records (boys and girls) for scoring (1,830) and rebounding (755). She has averaged 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over her career. Draxten is a two-time Class 3A first team all-state and all-conference honoree.
Wahlin, a native of Crookston, MN, is a 5-8 left-handed point guard who averaged 19.9 points for her Crookston High School basketball team that went 24-3 a year ago. A third-year captain, she boasts career averages of 16.5 ppg, 4.8 apg and 3.0 spg. Wahlin established school records in scoring, assists, steals and field goals. Her team finished second in the Minnesota state tournament her sophomore campaign, where she was recognized on the all-tournament squad. She was tabbed Minnesota Coaches Association All-State and was her team's MVP the last two seasons. Wahlin sank 47 consecutive free throws last year. Wahlin played on the same AAU team (North Tartan Larson) as Draxten last summer.
Krei, a native of Iowa City, has averaged 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists the last three years for City High. A two-time captain, she was a first team all-state honoree her freshman and junior years and was a second team selection as a sophomore. Krei is a three-time first team all-conference, all-district and all-area honoree. The 6-2 forward was named the 2007 Mississippi Valley Conference Player of the Year in basketball and track.
Mays, a native of Des Moines, is a four-year starter for Des Moines East High School. She was a pre-season Street & Smith's honorable mention all-American in 2006. Last season as a junior, she was an all-state, all-conference and all-district performer. A second-year captain, she helped lead her team to a school-best 19-5 record and a berth to the Girls State Tournament. A 6-1 forward, she led the Lady Scarlets in points (15 ppg), rebounds (10 rpg), blocks (4 bpg) and field goal percentage (63%).
Jones is a 5-9 guard/forward from Dayton, OH. Jones played her first two years at Stivers School for the Arts and competed for Carroll High School last season. She averaged 17.8 points her junior year and was tabbed first team all-league and second team all-conference, all-district and all-southwest. Jones was named MVP of Carroll High School her junior season. She was selected first team all-league, all-conference and all-district her sophomore campaign. Jones was the highest scorer in the area her sophomore year (28.0 ppg) and named Stivers High School MVP.
HAWKEYES RETURN THREE ALL-BIG TEN PERFORMERS
Iowa returns third team all-Big Ten performers Wendy Ausdemore and Kristi Smith and honorable mention honoree Megan Skouby from a year ago. All three juniors averaged double figures to lead the Hawkeyes. Smith averaged a team-best 13.4 points, followed by Skouby (13.2) and Ausdemore (12.7).
Iowa will honor and celebrate the 1992-93 team that posted a 27-4 overall record, captured first place in the Big Ten with a 16-2 mark and advanced to the Final Four in Atlanta. The team will be recognized at halftime of the February 17th game vs. Minnesota.
SOLVERSON RETURNS FOR SIXTH SEASON
Johanna Solverson has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing the last two seasons due to consecutive ACL tears in her right knee. The 6-2 small forward played in all but one game her first three seasons. One of Iowa's most versatile players, she boasts a career average of 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.67 steals in 94 games.
Solverson becomes only the second Iowa women's basketball player to receive a sixth year from the NCAA. Simone Edwards (1993-97) received a sixth year after suffering two season-ending knee injuries. Edwards played two full seasons and a partial third with the Hawkeyes after transferring to Iowa from Seminole Junior College.
HOME GROWN HAWKEYES
Iowa's roster features five players from the state of Iowa (Wendy Ausdemore, Kelsey Cermak, Abby Emmert, Stacy Schlapkohl and Nicole VanderPol). The Hawkeyes also have two players from Illinois (Jenee Graham and Johanna Solverson) and Minnesota (Kachine Alexander and Krista VandeVenter). Iowa's 13-person roster also features players from Colorado (Kristi Smith), Kansas (JoAnn Hamlin), Michigan (Lindsey Nyenhuis) and Ohio (Megan Skouby).
Iowa Hawkeye fans will again be treated to behind-the-scenes information this season as seniors Jenee Graham and Johanna Solverson and junior Lindsey Nyenhuis will blog during the season, which will be posted on hawkeyesports.com. The trio will share their thoughts on practices, games, road trips, and everything else concerning the program.
IOWA INFORMATION ON THE WEB
Statistics and play-by-play accounts of all games will be available live on the internet. The statistical program allows viewers to read the play-by-play action just moments after it takes place, and to view all individual and team statistics while the game is in progress.
The program can be accessed through hawkeyesports.com and then clicking on the `Gametracker' link.
"HAWK TALK WITH Lisa Bluder"
Catch "Hawk Talk with Lisa Bluder", the radio call-in program Monday nights featuring Iowa Hawkeye women's head coach Lisa Bluder, on KXIC-AM 800 in Iowa, WHO-AM 1040 in Des Moines and WMT-AM 600 in Cedar Rapids from 6-7 p.m.
Fans can call toll-free at (800) 332-5401 or locally at (319) 365-0600. The show originates from Bob's Your Uncle restaurant on the eastside of Iowa City.
ON THE HORIZON
The Hawkeyes return home to host Georgia Tech Nov. 28, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the game will be Iowa's first women's basketball contest televised on the Big Ten Network.
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