Block party for Bluder’s Bunch leads to easy win


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This one wasn’t even close.

After almost blowing a 30-point advantage against Illinois on Sunday, the Iowa women’s basketball team (15-11, 8-7) built another large lead in the first half.

However, the Hawkeyes kept their composure and defeated Minnesota (12-14, 5-10), 75-54, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night. It was the seventh win in the last eight games for Iowa.

Freshman Jaime Printy and sophomore Kamille Wahlin posted 15 points each, and junior Kachine Alexander recorded a double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Freshman Morgan Johnson added 12 points while setting a school-record with eight blocks.

“I thought we played another really good first half,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I just feel like our offense was clicking. Defensively, I think we surprised them a little bit with our aggressiveness to begin the game.”

Defense proved to be a central theme in the Hawkeyes’ victory — Iowa tallied a school-record 13 blocks. Along with Johnson’s individual school record, freshman Gabby Machado and junior Kelsey Cermak had two blocks a piece, and Wahlin had one.

“I think it’s just an exciting opportunity for me,” Johnson said. “It’s one of my jobs in my paint, especially when we’re in our zone defense, is to stop penetration, and I do that by blocking shots.”

Iowa took an early 11-3 lead just 15:32 of the first half. Using a 23-9 run, the Hawkeyes raced out to a 34-12 at the 8:05 mark and went into halftime with a commanding 50-28 edge.

The Hawkeyes out-rebounded the Golden Gophers, 26-12, in the first half, while shooting 63.3 percent and holding Minnesota to just 30.6 percent from the field.

“It seemed like every miss [Iowa] had in the first half, they got the offensive board,” Minnesota head coach Pam Borton said. “We just had to continue to take it one possession at a time in the second half and kind of keep chipping away.”

After nearly blowing a large advantage against Illinois the previous game, Iowa went into halftime with a different mentality. Bluder said the Hawks took the initiative to talk among themselves in the locker room about securing the lead and not letting Minnesota slip back in.

During the second half, the Gophers used a 15-7 run to cut Iowa’s lead to 14, but the Gophers couldn’t get within single digits. The Hawkeyes then built some momentum of their own to seal the game.

After starting the Big Ten season 1-6, Iowa has gone on a hot streak. Going 7-1, the Hawkeyes have scored 70 or more points in eight-consecutive games and moved into fifth place in the conference standings.

“It’s just been exciting,” Wahlin said. “I can’t really explain the feeling except that it’s just been a lot of fun. I think we’re all getting along. We’re all ready to come to practice to work and get each other better. I just feel like we’re all kind of goofy and having fun.”

Iowa will travel to Evanston, Ill., in search of the season sweep against Northwestern on Feb. 21. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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