Charity stripe plays a big role in Iowa women’s upset


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Following the heartbreaking, buzzer-beating 66-65 loss to Florida International on Nov. 23, Iowa needed a quick rebound. Head coach Lisa Bluder said her women’s basketball team needed a close win to help raise its spirits. And that’s what it got on Sunday.

Iowa (5-2), on just two days rest, took down No. 12 West Virginia, 79-70, capping an up-and-down week, of sorts, for the Hawkeye women’s basketball team.

“For them to bounce back, and to be on the road, we thought this would be a good opportunity,” Bluder said. “But thank goodness for the free-throw line.”

The charity stripe played a crucial role in Iowa’s comeback victory over the 12th-ranked Mountaineers (3-2). Iowa shot 42-of-50 from the free-throw line on Sunday, which put the Hawkeyes into both the school and conference record books.

Iowa set a Big Ten and school record for free-throw shots made (42) and set a school record for free-throw attempts (50). The Hwks’ 27-of-30 showing from the line in the second-half helped to complete the comeback after the Hawkeyes were down 32-25 at halftime.

Jaime Printy also found a spot in the record books. The senior continues to shine — she led the team with 17 free-throws made on as many attempts — a performance that was good enough for the best single-game school record and second for most free-throws made in Big Ten history.

Printy’s free-throw shooting performance was also the ninth time in school history that an Iowa player was perfect from the free-throw line while shooting at least 10 shots. Printy holds three of those records, and one of the other two came earlier this season, when she shot 11-for-11 against Middle Tennessee in the Preseason WNIT semifinals.

“It feels great to come away with a win against a top-15 team like West Virginia,” said Printy, who finished 1-of-3 from the field. “There were a lot of fouls, on both sides, called tonight and we were able to convert from the line. I was fortunate to get to the line a lot tonight, and my shot from the free-throw line felt great.”

West Virginia also took its fair share of free shots, shooting 22-of-29 from the line during the game. The Mountaineers were outscored by the Hawkeyes 54-38 in the second-half, due in large part because of the free-throws they surrendered.

Bluder labeled the game “strangely called,” and both teams got into the bonus early on in both halves. Bluder noted that Iowa didn’t take advantage of that for a while.

She also praised the play of senior Morgan Johnson, who went 6-of-11 from the field and added 7 free-throws for 19 points.

“She was getting double-teamed most of the time,” Bluder said. “She had one up front and one behind her. And she caught so many passes that were unbelievable — they’d hit her hand, bobble it, but she would hang onto it and still convert.”

Johnson made her mark in Iowa’s record books in the losing effort against Florida International on Nov. 23. The senior needed just 2 blocks entering the game to break the school’s career-blocks record and finished the game with 5.

Johnson now owns the record for career blocks with 239, a mark previously held by Tangela Smith at 235.

“It’s hard to think about breaking a record after a loss like that,” Johnson said after the loss to Florida International on Nov. 23. “[But] it’s an honor to hold a record like this at the University of Iowa.”

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