Hoopsters tie for second, Iowa women set record


Seniors Wendy Ausdemore, Megan Skouby, and Kristi Smith entered the Big Ten record books Sunday afternoon as the Iowa women’s basketball team beat Northwestern, 86-79, in Evanston, Ill.

A Skouby 18-foot jumper with 15:06 left in the game gave the senior trio the record for most points by one class in conference history.

The three seniors teamed up for 49 points against the Wildcats and now sit at 4,134 points combined in their careers, moving past the 2004 Purdue senior set of Shereka Wright (2,251), Erika Valek (1,219), and Beth Jones (640), for a combined 4,110 points.

“That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment,” Iowa assistant coach Jenni Fitzgerald said in a postgame radio interview. “It’s nice to have individual records, but to have it as a group is special.”

Iowa is the first team in Big Ten history to have three players with 1,250 points or more in their careers. Smith leads the bunch with 1,421, followed by Skouby at 1,416, and Ausdemore at 1,297. Smith and Skouby are in eighth and ninth place on the all-time Iowa scoring list.

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“It just shows you the quality of these three players and what they’ve done for us in their careers,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said in a postgame radio interview. “All three are tremendous players and they’ll be missed next year. But we’re hoping they’ll be playing a lot more games this season.”

The Hawkeyes finish regular-season play with the same record overall and in the conference as last season, 20-9 (13-5).

Iowa finishes in a three-way tie for second-place in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Purdue, but loses both tiebreakers and will have to settle for the No. 4 seed at the Big Ten Tournament, which will begin Thursday. The Hawkeyes’ first game will be in the quarterfinals on Friday night against the fifth-seeded Golden Gophers. Ohio State clinched the out-right Big Ten title when Purdue lost against Michigan State on Sunday.

Against the Wildcats, Iowa led most of the contest but never pulled away. The Hawkeyes held a 16-point lead midway through the second half, but the Wildcats used an 8-0 run to trim the Iowa lead to six points, punctuated by a Jenny Eckhart jumper with 3:58 to go.

The teams traded points for the next three-and-a-half minutes, with Northwestern closing the gap to four points as late as the 1:25 mark, after a Brittany Orban lay-in.

But Iowa didn’t let the Wildcats get any closer, hitting its free throws down the stretch. The Hawkeyes went 10-for-11 from the line over the final five minutes of the game.

“When we get to the free- throw line, it certainly helps,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s important to our game that we get there.”

The two teams combined for 31 fouls and the Hawkeyes finished 21-for-25 from the line. Iowa is the leading free-throw shooting team in the Big Ten.

“The game was physical, and that’s what you expect this time of year,” Fitzgerald said. “You have to expect the bumps and crashes.”

All five Hawkeye starters finished in double-figures, led by Smith and Skouby, who each scored 19, with Smith adding four assists. Freshman guard Kamille Wahlin had 16 points and six assists, and sophomore guard Kachine Alexander scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Ausdemore finished with 11 points and four assists.

Four Wildcats finished in double-figures, led by Amy Jaeschke’s 16. Cousin Ellen Jaeschke scored 14, followed by former Chicago Bull Bill Cartwright’s daughter, Kristin, who scored 12.

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