Armstrong is too strong in GTL semis

BY KYLE HUGHES | JULY 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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Great players play their best when it matters, and there were three great players on one team during Monday night's Game Time League semifinal.

Kelly Krei, K.K. Armstrong, and Melissa Dixon took over on both ends of the court during the second half and led a 33-10 run over the final 11:28 to cruise to an easy 99-68 win and advance to the championship game.

Dixon scored 7-straight points to start the run and ended with a game-high 26 points.

"We played really aggressively," she said. "My defense helped with that run, [and] everyone was moving the ball around so well that it helped me to get shots."

The Iowa freshman wasn't the only player on Cullen/Falbo who turned in a great playoff performance. Armstrong posted a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. The Northern Iowa point guard, who pushed the ball at every opportunity, said her scrappy play and quickness allowed her to take advantage of the opposition.

Iowa forward Kelly Krei also played well, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

"It was a good team effort tonight," she said. "My teammates were doing well, [and] they were passing the ball great."

Vinton/McCurry's was playing without Iowa guard Kamille Wahlin, who averaged 22.3 points per game during the regular season. She received an injection in her right knee for worn cartilage, which she said caused her to miss a week.

Iowa teammates Bethany Doolittle and Kalli Hansen attempted to pick up the slack, but they seemed to miss Wahlin's presence in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Doolittle and Hansen led the team with 17 and 16 points, respectively, but fell off in the second half and were forced into taking tough shots that kept coming up short.

Cullen coach JoAnn Hamlin said her team earned the victory because it played some of the best defense of the season during the second half.

"The first half, we were a little [relaxed] on defense, which has been the trend of the season," Hamlin said. "They got a little tired [at the end], and I noticed that. I made sure I rotated our girls in."

The game went back-and-forth for most of the first half as both teams relied on a balanced offensive attack.

Doolittle, a freshman center, recovered from a 0-for-4 start from the field and hit her next six shots to give her 12 points at the break. She was able to hit running hooks, scoop shots, and even got ahead of everybody for a fast-break lay-up.

A Dixon 3-pointer off a Krei assist gave the team a 43-36 advantage at halftime.

Only seven players suited up for Vinton, and they looked tired as the game progressed. The team combined to shoot only 10-for-32 in the second half, and Krei said that was because of an up-tempo attack from her Cullen squad.

"We kept pushing the pace and had good ball movement," she said. "It just wears people down after a while."

The trio of Krei, Dixon, and Armstrong will now play for the Game Time championship on Wednesday. They will face undefeated Monica's/Bob's Your Uncle, led by former Hawkeye Kachine Alexander. In two previous matchups, Alexander's team has won by a combined 77 points.

"We had bad luck against them the past two times," Hamlin said. "[But] it's hard to beat a good team three times — and I think we're a good team."

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