IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Those large gold placards with black 3's printed on them and handed out to entering fans got a workout this afternoon during Iowa's 74-46 women's basketball victory over Northwestern inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Not to diminish that Iowa flashed second-half sizzle, highlighted by eight made three-point field goals, but the number three had added significance after this game. First, the Hawkeyes (11-7 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten Conference) have won three consecutive league games. Northwestern, on the other hand, has dropped three straight and dipped to 5-13, 1-6.
"I was impressed with Iowa and disappointed with us," Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown said. "Hopefully we bounce back. The second half just snow-balled and Iowa got hot. When they get open shots, they're really good."
Iowa has won seven of its last 10 games and three of its next four games are at home, where the Hawkeyes are 7-1 this season.
"This feels good," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said of the three-game winning streak. "Last year we had eight. Now we have three and we're just taking it one at a time. Hopefully we can get a nice streak going again."
You could also say that the Hawkeyes received quite an assist from sophomore guard Kachine Alexander, whose 12 assists tied a school and arena record. The one that put her in the record book alongside Cara Consuegra, Laurie Aaron, LaTonya Tate and Michelle Edwards came with 2:42 left in the game. Alexander raced up center court and dished off to the right side to Kristi Smith who swished a 12-foot jumper from the right angle. Alexander finished with a triple-double (12 assists, 11 rebounds, 10 points) -- the first for a Hawkeye since Consuegra on Feb. 3, 2000 against Indiana.
"Before we were on the road a lot," Alexander said. "We knew this was our time to get on a roll at home. This is our point to get on a roll."
Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures, led by JoAnn Hamlin with 16 points, followed by Hannah Draxten, who scored 13 points in 16 minutes. Smith scored 11 and Megan Skouby and Alexander added 10 apiece.
"I love the balanced scoring we had tonight," Bluder said. "We also out-rebounded Northwestern (37 to 29). All-around, I thought it was a pretty good game for us."
Northwestern came out strong and grabbed a quick and brief 7-2 lead. A made jumper by Hamlin off an Alexander assist gave the Hawkeyes their first lead at 9-7 with 14:59 left in the half. They would never trail again. A made layup by Kamille Wahlin with 4:22 left in the first half gave Iowa its largest lead of the first 20 minutes -- 27-13.
The Wildcats used a 14-2 run to close the half and reduce the Hawkeye lead to five (29-24). Hamlin paced Iowa by shooting a perfect 5 of 5 from the field for 10 points. Ten of the 13 Hawkeye field goals were assisted, with five of those coming from Alexander. Alexander also corralled seven rebounds.
Aside from Northwestern's Brittany Orban, who was 3 of 3 from the field in the first half, Iowa effectively slowed the Northwestern offense. The rest of the Wildcats made just 6 of 23 attempts from the floor (26.1 percent). Iowa converted half of its 26 field goal attempts.
Northwestern did swipe five steals in the first half and 11 of its 24 points followed Hawkeye miscues.
Iowa dominated the second half, outscoring the Wildcats, 45-22. Draxten scored a game-high 10 points during an 11-minute spurt in the second half. In less than three minutes (7:30 to 4:33 in the second half), Draxten was 4 for 4 from the field with two three-pointers.
Orban made a layup to begin the second half and cut the Iowa lead to 29-26. From there the Hawkeyes closed the game with a 45-20 run, including a 14-0 run late in the game.
The Hawkeyes look to continue their winning ways Monday, Jan. 26, with a home game against Michigan beginning at 7:05 p.m. Iowa won 2 of 3 from the Wolverines last season. After falling 63-46 in December, the Hawkeyes won the next two meetings -- 66-61 in Carver Hawkeye Arena and 58-37 in the Big Ten Tournament.
"We have our work cut out for us," Bluder said. "We know playing Michigan at home will be a challenging game."