Iowa advances to play top-seeded Ohio State tomorrow night at approximately 7:15 p.m. (CST) in Conseco Fieldhouse. The Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes in the only regular season meeting 85-75 on Feb. 12 in Iowa City. Ohio State defeated ninth-seeded Illinois tonight, 70-53.
Iowa has won 13 of its last 15 contests, including seven in a row. Iowa has now advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals seven times. The Hawkeyes advanced to the semifinals a year ago as a No. 2 seed, but lost to Purdue.
Tonight was Iowa's 1,000th women's basketball game in its 35th season as a varsity sport.
Tonight was the 62nd meeting between Iowa and Minnesota. Iowa improves to 41-21 all-time against the Gophers. Iowa has now won four of the last five meetings. The Hawkeyes are now 3-0 vs. Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament contests.
Iowa is now 16-2 when shooting a higher percentage than its opponents. Iowa shot 50 percent (30-6) from the field to only 43 percent (25-58) for Minnesota. Iowa improves to 20-2 when scoring 60 or more points, 18-1 when leading at the half.
Wendy Ausdemore poured in a game-high 25 points and also grabbed seven rebounds. The senior shot a blistering 10-16 (.625) from the field and 4-5 (.800) from 3-point territory.
Iowa improves to 8-7 in Big Ten Tournament contests under Head Coach Lisa Bluder. The Hawkeyes improve to 4-2 all-time as a No. 4 seed in Big Ten Tournament games.
Also shooting the ball well tonight was Kachine Alexander, making 7-11 (.636) from the field. She also secured a game-high 13 rebounds. The native of Minneapolis, MN, has now posted a team-best eight double-doubles this season.
Kamille Wahlin netted all eight of her points in the second half. She also dished out four assists. Kristi Smith finished with 15 points and also had a team-high five assists to only one turnover.
Iowa led by as many as 15 points (44-29) in the first half. The Gophers scored the last five points of the half to make the score 44-34 at intermission.
Wendy netted 16 first half points, shooting 6-10 (.600) from the field, including perfect 3-3 (1.000) from distance. Kachine Alexander nearly posted a double-double the first 20 minutes with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Iowa made 10 of its first 13 field goals attempted (.769), including its first three 3-point attempts (1.000).
Trailing 17-14, Iowa recorded four-straight 3-point plays (three triples and one traditional 3-point play) to take an early 26-17 advantage. Wendy Ausdemore scored 13 of Iowa's first 26 points the first 10 minutes of the contest.
Iowa outrebounded the Gophers by nine tonight (40-31).
THE MODERATOR: All right. We're going to open it up with a statement from Coach Lisa Bluder, then we'll take questions for the student athletes. So Coach.
COACH BLUDER: I'm happy in the way we won this game, once again with balanced scoring. Almost five people in double figures. We shot the ball well. We rebounded well. Won the rebounding war and only had 11 turnovers.
So pretty happy. We had some defensive breakdowns, but overall I thought it was a nice game for us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Wendy, what does this win mean now looking back at the last minutes of the game?
WENDY AUSDEMORE: This is a huge win. We beat them at our place earlier in the season and then we went one on one with them and they beat us on their home court. So it was nice to get them again on a neutral court.
I thought the team did a really good job coming out ready to play today.
Q. Wendy, you scored that foul on that layup at the free throw and you took the lead for the rest of the game. Can you talk about holding on and blowing away at the end also?
WENDY AUSDEMORE: Again, I just think the team really stepped up and got some defensive stops when we really needed to. I think they got within 10 down the stretch, but just the balanced scoring throughout and just people stepping up.
Q. Kristi, just talk about the way you guys were able to pull away in the beginning of the first half and keep the lead this time.
KRISTI SMITH: We really just stressed before halftime, trying to get the momentum, to take that into halftime with us. And all throughout the second half, you know, we really stressed they're not going to go away and we need to keep getting stops on defense and keep up the intensity.
Q. Kachine, you played really well inside tonight. What did you do to maintain that position?
KACHINE ALEXANDER: I tried to come out hard. I knew a lot of people know I'm a pretty good rebounder and just tried to read the ball. And my teammates got me the ball pretty well today and I took it hard to the hole.
Q. Kachine, you were slow to get up. How are you feeling and what happened?
KACHINE ALEXANDER: My head hit the floor once, and then she sat on my head and it hit again. I think I'm okay. I just saw the doctor. But just take it easy. And they didn't check on me, so we'll see. A really bad headache, but I'll be all right for tomorrow.
Q. Minnesota is one of your bigger rivals, how did if feel to beat them after they beat you last time out?
KACHINE ALEXANDER: Great. We thought about it before, but coming from Minnesota it's always good to beat the Gophers. I told them at halftime, this is the second half; we're going to come out hard because this is probably going to be the NCAA berth if they win.
It was great. I'm having a ball.
Q. Kachine, a lot of your baskets were taken of course off the dribble getting to the hole. Can you talk about had a couple of lefty layups?
KACHINE ALEXANDER: I just pretty much read the defense. A lot of the team try to get off of me. I try to take them off that way and attack their hip, and it seems to be working. Just keep doing it. Coach tells me attack, no matter how they're playing me, attack and get my teammates open.
Q. Wendy, can you talk about your shooting performance, 4, 5 from 3 and the percentage?
WENDY AUSDEMORE: Well, it's good to see them go down. I think in years past I've had a couple of rough times in here. So it's good to see them go down. But give credit to my teammates for getting the ball to me when I was open.
Q. Kristi, you know Emily Fox well from growing up. What's it like playing her?
KRISTI SMITH: It feels really good. Emily and I have always we had a good rivalry growing up and it's kind of odd that we play each other here, but it's fun and I always enjoying playing against her and she's a great player.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.
Questions for Coach.
Q. I think right before Wendy's big 3 point play in the first half you had said drive on them because they've been driving on you effectively. How happy were you to see that?
COACH BLUDER: That's an important part I think of our game is that we have to penetrate hard. A lot of good things happen to us when we attack and penetrate. I felt Minnesota was beating us at our own game a little bit. So it was time to turn the tables, and they did.
Q. Coach, a few times during the season you guys had leads, kind of let the other team get back in. Tonight you held that lead and extended it at the end. Can you talk about that?
COACH BLUDER: Very happy about that, and we talked about how Minnesota had been kind of a second half team. They played better in the second half. You know, we had the lead up at their place, and then they came back. We had a 6 point lead with a couple of minutes to go.
So when those things happen to you, I think it was never let down. I thought our team was very focused tonight. In every huddle I thought they were really in tune with each other. They were really listening well. And so I thought that they were very, very focused for the entire 40 minutes tonight.
Q. Coach, it seemed like for a while there the teams were kind of trading baskets and for a stretch there in the middle defensively it looked like you guys kind of stepped up. Could you talk about the defense. It was an offense game then for a while there you got some stops?
COACH BLUDER: It was a pretty offensive game with us scoring 79 points, 44 in the first half. When we began the second half we were trading baskets back and forth. We talked about it in our timeouts. It's not good enough to trade baskets. The only way we're going to stop that is by with our defensive stops and getting the rebounds. And I thought Ashley Ellis Milan did a really good job getting inside, getting some paint points, high percentage points.
She forced us into the zone and then our zone was effective after that. So it was also taking some time off the shot clock, which was nice.
Q. Can you talk about the first game with Ohio State, the only regular season game with Ohio State, and what you think of Ohio State, the team you'll face tomorrow night?
COACH BLUDER: I know we're facing a great team. Jantel Lavender, Player of the Year, they have the Defensive Player of the Year, the Freshman of the Year, the Coach of the Year. It's obviously a very good basketball team. We played a very good game when we beat them at our place. I thought we it was a game that we shot the ball well. We boarded well. We took care of the ball.
And so I'm sure Ohio State's remembering that and would like to have a little avenge that, but they're a great basketball team. But everybody you play this time of year is usually a very good basketball team. So we'll be looking forward to it.
Q. Can you talk about your streak, how you've performed, especially coming into the Big Ten tournament and how you think you played today based off that?
COACH BLUDER: I thought we played well today. Again, I thought we shot well. I loved the balance we had. Seven games in a row was nice. But we want to make it eight.
Q. Coach, this is the first time I've had a chance to see Kachine Alexander play. I've rarely seen somebody with that height get those kind of rebounds. Can you talk about what she does on the board and what she gives to your team?
COACH BLUDER: She's fun to watch. She's a special player because she has that second effort. You think the ball is going out of bounds or that Minnesota had the ball and all of a sudden she comes up with it. And to me that's just heart. She just doesn't give up pursuing the basketball on a rebound. And I love that about Kachine because she gives us so many more possessions just because of her outright hustle and heart to go get the basketball.
Q. Can you talk about Wendy Ausdemore's game, shot well, had seven rebounds?
COACH BLUDER: She had a great game. When she gets confidence stroking the 3 it's so much fun to see her. And now she's at the power forward position, and sometimes we can create mismatches with her, or sometimes power forwards forget about her and forget what a 3 point threat that she really is.
But she leaves our university as one of the best 3 point shooters of all time. And she's had a remarkable career and obviously she's a great person as well.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
MINNESOTA QUOTES THE MODERATOR: We'll open up with an opening statement from Coach Pam Borton, then go to the student athletes for questions.
COACH BORTON: You've got to give Iowa a lot of credit for playing a great basketball game today. Four people in double figures. Wendy Ausdemore had an unbelievable game. And you gotta give them credit for playing well.
I was very proud of our kids and the heart and hustle until the very end of the game. And Iowa was a better team today than we were.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. For Ashley or Brittany, talk about Iowa's offensive execution. They seemed to have it going today, shot 50% for the game. What particular difficulties did they show you today?
ASHLEY ELLIS MILAN: You know, I think Iowa, throughout the whole Big Ten season, they have unbelievable offensive sets and they have unbelievable kids who can shoot.
And Wendy Ausdemore did an unbelievable job tonight for the Iowa basketball team. And not only do they play offense, but they rebound. Kachine was unbelievable. I thought she went out there and she was tenacious on the board and didn't give up.
I thought their offensive execution is great. They can hit a shot anywhere on the floor. And I thought they did well, very well.
BRITTANY McCOY: I feel like the same way. We knew they're a great offensive team. And we set a goal for ourselves to keep them under 60 points this game, because we knew if we kept them down, we had a chance to win.
I felt we executed well on defense. But like Ashley said, Ausdemore went off and had a great game. Kachine Alexander had a great game. And a lot of times we were there on shooters and there on the catch and they were still able to get the ball in the basket.
Q. Brittany, it seemed pretty obvious that you were really determined to be aggressive to start this game off. You were driving to the hoop and such. I thought offensively you guys executed pretty well today overall. Did you feel the same?
BRITTANY McCOY: I thought we executed really well on offense. Personally, I feel like whenever we play Iowa I have the ability to get in maybe more than when we play other teams.
I don't know, I just feel like a lot of times I have mismatches on the perimeter and I like to exploit that. We had people hitting big shots for us. I was able to distribute the ball. I felt we had good ball movement on offense. We were getting the ball inside. So we executed well but they executed better.
Q. Brittany or Ashley, how do you think this loss affects your NCAA tournament chances?
ASHLEY ELLIS MILAN: I think it affects us a lot. We needed to come out tonight and win and we didn't. And it affects our bid for the NCAA tournament, and we're just going to have to see what happens and go from there.
BRITTANY McCOY: I feel the same way. We know whether we end up in the NCAA tournament or NIT, we do have a couple more weeks of basketball. We're just going to put our heart and souls into it. We're just going to keep working hard and get as far as we can.
Q. Can you talk about ending the Big Ten season against the rival Iowa and kind of what the rivalry has been to you guys, Ashley and Brittany?
ASHLEY ELLIS MILAN: The rivalry between Iowa and Minnesota is, it's heavy. We get ready for these games between Minnesota and Iowa and Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those are big games for us.
And we beat them at our house. And we lost to them there. I thought today both teams gave their best effort. And the better team won tonight. So I give it to Iowa.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies, thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Pam, there was a four minute stretch there in the second half where you finally got some defensive stops. But you couldn't make any hay with it. Did you feel like that was the lost opportunity there?
COACH BORTON: I think it was. I think there was a period in the first half as well when I thought both teams were executing very well. I think it was about the 12 and a half minute mark to the eight and a half minute mark where they scored nine straight points. And that's kind of where they pulled away in the first half.
Second half we did get some stops. I think we missed a couple free throws in that area as well that I felt like we could have, we just couldn't get any closer than eight or 10 points in the second half. And I thought we had our opportunities, and we wanted to take advantage of the times that they did miss shots and the times that we were able to get some turnovers and we did not.
Q. Coach, just looking at your season, got off to a really good start. The last four or five games struggled a little bit. Can you talk a little bit about maybe what's changed for you guys?
COACH BORTON: Well, I'm not sure what's changed. I think it's just been the last week. I thought we were having a great season up until last week when we played three games in one week, and lost two games that we probably shouldn't have lost. And we had a great game at Michigan State. So I thought we played a lot better today than what we did in a couple of games last week.
But we don't want to erase everything that we've done those first four, five months before that. So I think it's just been our consistency. It's been our consistency all year with we had three players in double figures. If we were able to have that all year, we would have been fine with who is going to show up and do what on this team. So I just think it's just been a lack of consistency on our team.
Q. You had talked going into this game that you thought you needed to win to get an NCAA bid. Are you pretty much in your mind kind of convinced that maybe NIT might be the route you go, or are you still going to be sitting on pins and needles?
COACH BORTON: I think we'll be sitting on pins and needles. A win today would have been a lock for us, with 20 wins and beating all the top teams in the conference other than Purdue, once or twice. I think we still have a shot. The Big Ten is a very strong conference. We finished in fifth place, and we'll wait and see.
Q. Coach, I think Iowa started shooting for the game 10 for 13 at 3 point range. Is that hard to overcome when somebody comes out that hot?
COACH BORTON: It's very typical of Iowa. I think they came out at our place and it was 20 to 6 in just a matter of minutes, it felt like. And we knew we had to weather the storm and hope that they were going to miss some shots and really kind of step up our defense a little bit.
But every time that we did, Ausdemore would come down and hit a big shot, or Alexander would get an offensive board. And I thought those two players played very, very well today.
Q. You got it within 10. You made a stop. Then you had a wide open 3 pointer on the other end. Do you feel if that had gone, maybe you could have gotten over the hump, do you think maybe that moment was the crucial moment in the second half?
COACH BORTON: You know, you never know against a team like Iowa. I just felt we needed to take advantage of every offensive opportunity we had. With as many weapons as they have, they have four or five people in double figures. JoAnn Hamlin coming off the bench that had 21 against us at their place. And they just have so much balance, and they're so efficient offensively, that when one person's down, there's one or two people who step up on that end.
Q. Coach, could you talk about Ausdemore? Shot the ball well, talk about her game.
COACH BORTON: I thought she played very well. I thought she hit some big shots. And there was one shot that we had two people on her. I think it was a shot clock, the shot clock was going down. I'm like that was the icing on the cake. That just told you what kind of game she was having right there.
And she's a great player. And with her playing the 4 position, the power forward position, sometimes it creates a mismatch. A freshman guarding a senior with her experience I thought exploited Jackie Voigt quite a bit on the perimeter, but I thought she played a great game.
Q. Can you talk about just JoAnn Hamlin and kind of what she means to Iowa? She wasn't there in the victory you had against them. And what difference does she make?
COACH BORTON: I thought she made more of a difference when we played them the first time. She gives them more depth at the post. She's a tough kid inside and gives Skouby a breather coming off the bench.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.