Hawkeye transfer, Thomas shines on defense

BY CARLOS SOSA | JULY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Defense proved to be the most important aspect of Monday night's Game Time League game.

Coralville Hy-Vee overcame a strong defensive first half from Pelling/Culvers to win, 77-67.

Head coach Mike Stoermer's Hy-Vee team was able to get off to an 11-0 run to start the game. The rest of the first half however, was spent battling it out on the other end of the court.

"[We came] out aggressive on defense," recent Iowa transfer Kathryn Thomas said. "We needed to stay committed on defense and finding the extra pass on offense."

Thomas was able to show her opponents some of the skills she honed while playing one year at Highland (Kan.) Community College. She was named Jayhawk Conference player and Freshman of the Year while averaging 20 points a game.

Head coach Joe Johnston's team was implementing an efficient 2-3 zone until Stoermer's team began making the extra passes on offense. Stoermer's team played a decent first half of offense, but then shot lights out in the second half.

"Obviously, they shot the ball better than anyone I've seen at Game Time," Northern Iowa guard Sharnae Lamar said. "They made us pay. They hit open shots and contested shots. They had a great shooting game."

Stoermer's team finished the game with 18 3s.

Thomas was the biggest beneficiary of those extra passes. She finished the game with 22 points, shooting 6-of-7 from the long distance, and she tied for a team-high 6 rebounds.

Thomas's shooting inspired her teammates to start letting shots fly.

"Definitely, our ball movement helped us get some good looks at the basket," incoming Iowa freshman Kali Peschel said. "Our coach talked to us at halftime. He said we had to just drive, and kick the ball, and hope the shot is there."

Stoermer's players were able to get open, and the shots were definitely there when they needed to be.

Peschel shot well from the floor and ended the night with a double-double. She scored 19 points, while shooting 4-of-9 from long range, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Peschel wasn't the only recent high-school graduate to contribute from downtown, though.

Incoming Northern Iowa freshman Amber Sorenson was quiet in the first half, only scoring 2 points.

Then she started shooting.

Sorenson went 5-of-7 from 3-point land in the second half and finished the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

"We we're trying to play hard and make as many stops as possible," Thomas said. "We wanted to try to stop the ball on the defensive end and try to prevent Beth from getting touches."

Bethany Doolittle scored 7 points in the first half while leading her team to a halftime lead. She was unable to continue that momentum in the second half and finished the game with 11 points while contributing 8 rebounds.

The biggest downfall for Johnston's team was that its 2-3 zone didn't hold up for the whole game.

The zone worked well in the first half, preventing some shots.

But then it faltered.

"Our defense has to pick up," Lamar said. "We have to let our defense help us and turn into offense. It was only our second game playing the 2-3, and they made us pay."

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