Last call for five senior hoopsters


With 3:11 left in what turned out to be the Hawks’ 69-56 victory over Illinois, the five Iowa basketball seniors took the floor together for the first time since they were all freshmen — and for the last time in their Hawkeye careers.

“It was fun,” Iowa senior forward Wendy Ausdemore said. “It was special to have us all out there.”
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder had senior forward Nicole VanderPol, who missed most of the season with a leg injury and was cleared to see limited action, and little-used senior guard Lindsey Nyenhuis check into the game to a standing ovation by the Carver-Hawkeye Arena faithful.

The pair joined Ausdemore, point guard Kristi Smith, and center Megan Skouby on the court, making it the first time the class was on the floor at the same time since a contest against Purdue four years ago.

“That’s what we dreamed about,” Bluder said. “We thought it would be so special if we could get all five of them on the floor at the same time.”

With the five, Smith missed a lay-up, and Illinois forward Lacey Simpson received an outlet pass in transition for an easy lay-up, but missed. VanderPol grabbed the rebound, making the Iowa stat sheet for the final time.

Bluder called a time-out to pull VanderPol right after the board.

“I was so happy that Coach Bluder allowed me to go back in there,” VanderPol said. “It was fun to be out there with all five seniors. It was so fun to do it again.

“It really means a lot to me.”

Ausdemore led the Hawkeye seniors with 10 points, followed by Smith (9) and Skouby (8). The three sit at 4,085 points combined, 25 points shy of the Big Ten record for three players from one class. The trio have one regular-season game, the Big Ten Tournament, and a probable date in the NCAA Tournament left to break the record.

“It says a lot about our class,” Ausdemore said. “It says a lot about the three of us and how consistent [we’ve been] over the years.”

The three seniors trail the 2004 Purdue senior set of Shereka Wright, Erika Valek, and Beth Jones at 4,110 points.

Ausdemore said being a Hawkeye has been a great and important part of her life.

“It’s hard to believe that four years have come and gone that fast,” the Neola native said. “It’s been fun.”

For all the joy of the postgame Senior Night activities, Skouby said, getting the win made the night perfect.

“It was great to come out with the win,” she said. “It’s been a great experience [to play at Iowa]. The four other seniors are great people, and I love them to death. It’s indescribable.”

Bluder said the seniors have been great for the Iowa women’s program, on and off the court.

“I’m so thankful for what they’ve done for us the last four years. A lot of hard work; a lot of leadership,” the ninth-year Iowa head coach said. “They’ve led in the way that we want them to lead.”

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