MADISON, Wis. -- The University of Iowa opened Big Ten Conference play with a convincing and commanding 73-63 women's basketball win over Wisconsin on Monday evening in the Kohl Center. It is the second straight road victory for the Hawkeyes, who improved to 8-4 overall. Wisconsin (10-2) lost for just the second time this season and the first time at home.
"This was a great game for us, on the road," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "To start the Big Ten season on the road and win that game will give us momentum."
Iowa has won four in a row in the series and 10 of the last 12.
The Hawkeyes shot 52.4 percent from the field (23 of 44) for the game and were led individually by senior forward Wendy Ausdemore. Ausdemore reached the 20-point mark for the second straight game, making 6 of 8 field goals (4 of 5 from three-point range) and all four free throws. As a team, Wisconsin attempted 65 field goals, but made just 24, shooting 36.9 percent from the field.
"I thought we shot the ball well from every area," Bluder said.
Iowa's starters got the job done. Megan Skouby scored 14 points with seven rebounds, Kristi Smith added 13 points and JoAnn Hamlin turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kachine Alexander pulled down 11 rebounds.
A made three-point field goal by Ausdemore gave the Hawkeyes their biggest lead of the game at 56-36. Although the final margin was cut in half, Iowa wouldn't allow Wisconsin to crawl back into the game. The Hawkeyes doubled Wisconsin from the free throw line, making 22 of 30. The Badgers made nine of 15.
Things went Iowa's way in the first half as the Hawkeyes broke out to a 35-23 lead. The first 20 minutes could be summarized by hot Hawkeyes and cold Badgers. Iowa made 13 of 23 field goals, including a layup by Smith at the end of the half which gave the Hawkeyes a 12-point advantage. Wisconsin attempted 10 more field goals -- thanks in part to seven Hawkeye turnovers and seven Badger offensive rebounds -- but converted just 10 times.
Wisconsin was 2 of 10 from three-point range and Iowa was 3 of 6. The Hawkeyes held a rebounding edge of 18-13.
The Iowa starting five combined for 33 of the 35 points in the first half -- eight by Ausdemore and Skouby, seven by Smith, six by Hamlin and four by Alexander.
The Hawkeyes will put their four-game winning streak on the line Tuesday, Dec. 28, when they host Purdue with a 2:05 p.m. tip inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The teams split the regular-season series a year ago with Iowa winning by 16 at home (69-53).
"After winning four games in a row it should be a great game to come out and watch," Bluder said. "We're playing good team basketball that's fun to watch."