DES MOINES, Iowa -- A barrage of three-point field goals -- four coming from senior Wendy Ausdmore -- helped the University of Iowa women's basketball team dominate in-state rival Drake, 71-53, inside the Knapp Center on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, Iowa (7-4 overall) completed a sweep of all Division I in-state basketball opponents to claim the mythical state championship.
"We're really happy to reach the goal of being the best team in the state this year," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "I'm also probably just as happy that we got a convincing road win, because that was something we needed to get before going into the Big Ten and especially since we open up at Wisconsin."
The Hawkeyes have now won seven consecutive games against Drake, including the last four in Des Moines.
"It means a lot [to beat all three Iowa schools]," UI senior Wendy Ausdemore said. "We haven't been able to do it yet and we finally get it here. Just to beat all three Iowa schools, they are all three really great teams, really great schools. But just to be able to come out on top of all of three really makes Iowa proud."
The Hawkeyes finished 28 of 59 (47.5 percent) from the floor and 7 of 20 (35 percent) from deep range. Defense provided a big lift and forced Drake to turn the ball over 20 times.
Four Hawkeyes finished in double-figures. Ausdemore led the way scoring a game high 20 points on 4 of 6 shooting from three-point range and was 7 of 11 from the floor. Junior JoAnn Hamlin had 14, senior Kristi Smith scored 12 and sophomore Kachine Alexander had 11 points.
"I'm extremely happy that Wendy Ausdemore had a good offensive performance," Bluder said. "I thought JoAnn Hamlin played well for us again and Kachine Alexander was her usual steady-eddy self, had eight rebounds for us and crashed the boards hard. It was a good all-around balanced performance with four people in double-figures."
The Bulldogs sprinted to an early 9-2 lead 3:07 into the game with the help of a few turnovers from Iowa. Hamlin put the Hawkeyes back in it with three short jumpers to cut the deficit to 9-8 with 11:33 left in the half.
"I think they came out a little stronger than we thought they would," Hamlin said. "We didn't respond well and we knew the next five minutes we knew we needed to come back."
Ausdemore gave the Hawkeyes a one-point advantage (10-9) with a mid-range jumper before freshman Kelly Krei nailed a trey to go up 13-9. Ausdemore followed suit and caught fire following Krei's three-pointer with one of her own and had a deep jumper to give the Hawkeyes an 18-11 advantage.
"Every time that first one goes down it always feels good," said Ausdemore, who also had four steals. "I have been struggling a little bit in practice with my shot but I try not to think about it too much and just play."
With 6:33 to go in the half, Ausdemore continued to rain in three's, hitting a trey and followed it up with yet another to take a commanding 26-14 lead.
Smith hit a buzzer-beating layup to put the Hawkeyes ahead 37-21 at halftime.
Turnovers helped the Hawkeyes take an even bigger lead with Drake losing a handle on 13 balls in the first half.
Senior Megan Skouby got the Hawkeyes off to a quick second-half start with a short jumper right out of the gates. With 17:26 left, Smith added a three-pointer to push Iowa's lead to 45-23.
More Bulldog miscues led to more Hawkeyes points. After stealing a Drake pass, Ausdemore had a fast break layup to give Iowa a 30-point lead.
With the Hawkeyes big lead, they were able to rest some of the starters and give the reserves some valuable time before Drake cut Iowa's lead to 18, trailing 57-39.
Ausdemore put the Hawkeyes back to a 20-point lead with another three to seal the game. Iowa used most of the shot clock from that point on and went on to win 71-53.
"After today's game I feel that we are in an excellent spot," Hamlin said. "We are going to have a tough road game against Wisconsin but I think we are definitely ready for it."
Drake held a 48-32 advantage in rebounds and the Bulldogs pulled down 25 on teh offensive end. Alexander grabbed eight rebounds to lead IOwa. Alexander and Smith both handed out five assists and Hamlin and Skouby both blocked five shots.
The Hawkeyes travel to Wisconsin on Monday for their first Big Ten Conference game with a 7:05 p.m. tipoff at the Kohl Center.
"One of our goals was to be state champs," Hamlin added. "Last year we didn't get that and that was one of our first goals and this year we got it. We are in a better spot than we were last year."