Iowa was outmatched by its Buckeye counterparts

BY JON FRANK | MARCH 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS — Size matters.

Iowa’s failure to overcome Ohio State for the second time in three meetings this season demonstrates the notion that height is one of the best edges a basketball team can have over its opponent.

“It was definitely tough,” sophomore guard Jaime Printy said following Iowa’s 71-61 loss to the Buckeyes in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal on March 4 in Conseco Field House. “They have two centers, and they’re both really good.”

Coach Jim Foster implemented a unique approach to dealing with the Hawkeyes’ outside shooting — his team essentially rendered the inside attack off-limits by starting two centers, which affected Iowa’s perimeter offense as well.

“You get by your first defender, and they’ve got a 6-5 kid waiting there between them and the basket,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It prevented us from getting easy shots. We shot the same from 3-point range as we did 2-point range. We didn’t get the easy to-the-rim baskets that we have gotten in transition.”

Unorthodox matchups also hindered Bluder’s Bunch. Senior guard Kachine Alexander — the Hawkeyes’ top rebounder and best dribble penetrator at 5-9 — was shadowed by 6-4 center Jantel Lavender.

“[Lavender] stopped the drive very, very well because Kachine is good at that,” Bluder said. “[Lavender] played off and used her size a little bit, and that was a good strategy.”

Based on box score statistics alone, height doesn’t jump out as a significant factor — the Hawkeyes pulled down one more rebound in the contest. It was the defensive matchups and easy opportunities in the paint for Ohio State that proved to be Iowa’s undoing.

The Buckeyes decimated a smaller Iowa squad on the inside. Twenty-six of their 71 points came in the paint. Iowa was unable to nullify the interior game, and Ohio State’s Brittany Johnson took advantage of a team that at times overcompensated its inside defense and allowed open looks on the perimeter.

“My teammates had confidence in me,” said Johnson, who accounted for 21 points from beyond the arc. “Jantel threw me the ball after the rebound. She had confidence, and then Tayler [Hill] and Sam [Prahalis] threw me the ball. So I was just focusing on my shot.”

The Hawkeyes’ inability to play shutdown defense hurt their chances. As a team, the Buckeyes shot 48 percent from the field — 15 percent better than their opponent.

“Ohio State just has really great athletes,” said junior Kamille Wahlin, who shot 3-of-12 in the loss. “They’re able to matchup man-to-man because of their size, their length, and their quickness. That can really get a team out of rhythm. Right now, they’re just clicking on all cylinders on the defensive end.”

After defeating Iowa, the Buckeyes went on to win the Big Ten Tournament for the third-straight season with a 84-70 win over Penn State Sunday. Ohio State has won nine games in a row.

“Their whole game, as a team, they really have come together,” Wahlin said. “They’re really working as one right now. And offensively and defensively, they’re just a tough team to contend with.”

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