Quirky win for Iowa women's basketball team


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In a game filled with unpredictability, there was no mystery concerning the Iowa women's basketball team's free-throw shooting.

With the help of the Hawkeyes' clutch free-throws down the stretch — they were 8-of-9 from the charity stripe in the game's final two minutes — Lisa Bluder's squad prevailed against Kansas State on Sunday, 68-62, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Although Sunday's matchup wasn't necessarily back and forth, there was no point in the game where a clear-cut winner emerged until Iowa seemed invincible from the free-throw line in the final minutes. The Hawkeyes (8-1) took advantage of their opportunities, recording a final tally of 16-of-19 from the line.

Bluder commended her team's free-throw shooting ability, including Kamille Wahlin's perfect 6-of-6 performance from the line.

"We're a good free-throw shooting team, we love to get to the free-throw line," Bluder said. "That's really part of our offense, to try to get there as many times as we can. Last year, we were the fifth-best free-throw shooting team in America, and we want to keep that tradition going. Kamille knocked down four really important free throws at the end of the game. That just shows you what kind of a competitor she is."

Jaime Printy led Iowa with 20 points against the Wildcats (6-1), despite getting her offensive production in a somewhat unconventional fashion. The sophomore guard was 8-of-13 from the field, with just one of those shots coming from 3-point range. Printy said she is happy that the Hawkeyes' were able to win their Big Ten/Big 12 challenge game this season.

"I think it was really good for us to [defeat Kansas State]," she said. "We had a tough loss against North Carolina (on Dec. 2), but we bounced back from it, and I think we're going to grow as a team from that loss and learn from it."

Indeed, Iowa's performance in the post turned out to be a crucial factor after the final buzzer sounded. Led by sophomore center Morgan Johnson, Iowa posted 38 of its points in the paint and had seven second-chance points around the basket.

The Hawkeyes attempted zero 3-point shots in the second half, but their hard drives to the basket enabled them to sustain the lead, despite Kansas State keeping the score close for a majority of the second half.

Johnson's 13 points aided the surge, as she battled with Kansas State's bigger post players for all 32 minutes she was in.

"I felt a little more confident in the second half," said Johnson, who credited halftime advice from the team's assistant coaches. "… I just worked hard in the second half to fix those things and make corrections."

Not all was positive for Iowa though; its normally reliable rebounding proved to be a minus on the report card for Bluder.

With the Hawkeyes' next game this Thursday against rival Iowa State, Bluder acknowledged some of these quirky instances that occurred on Sunday won't always equal a win for Iowa.

"This was a really unusual game for us, rebounding-wise," the 11-year head coach said. "I thought that we would be able to do a better job of [rebounding] than we did. It's something we'll have to focus on against Iowa State, but we'd certainly like to do a better job on the boards than we did."

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