MINNEAPOLIS -- What do you expect when Iowa and Minnesota tangle in women's basketball inside Williams Arena?
In what is becoming the norm in Minneapolis, the Hawkeyes and Gophers slugged it out for 40 minutes Sunday afternoon before host Minnesota pulled out a 64-58 decision in front of 7,848 spectators.
"I thought we fought hard and played hard," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "Our kids battled really, really hard."
Iowa had won three in a row in the series and also won the last two on the road -- 58-56 in 2006 and 68-66 in 2008.
The Gophers improved to 17-6 overall, 9-3 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa is 14-9, 7-5.
The Hawkeyes scored the first seven points of the game and held its biggest lead at 20-8 following a three-point field goal by Kristi Smith with 11 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half. Iowa shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, including 5 of 11 from three-point range. The Hawkeyes misfired on all nine three-point attempts during the final 20 minutes.
UI senior Wendy Ausdemore converted a field goal off an assist from Kachine Alexander with 4:21 remaining to give Iowa a 56-49 lead. Minnesota closed the game on a 15-2 run, highlighted by a three-point field goal from Ashley Ellis-Milan from the top of the key with 3:12 remaining which pulled the Gophers within three (56-53). It was the first trey of the season for Ellis-Milan.
Megan Skouby did all she could to keep Iowa in the game. She finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Skouby scored 11 points during the final 9:47.
"She shot the ball well and it was a great rebounding night for Megan," Bluder said.
Iowa defeated the Gophers by 17 points Jan. 11 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with JoAnn Hamlin contributing 21 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots. Hamlin missed her fifth consecutive game this afternoon with an ankle injury and her status is still uncertain for Thursday, Feb. 12, when the Hawkeyes host Ohio State.
"It's one of those day-by-day things," Bluder said. "Hopefully she will be ready for the next game."
Minnesota needed a 41-point outburst during the final 20 minutes to secure the victory. Iowa finished the game making 24 of 55 field goals (43.3 percent) and all five free throw attempts. The Gophers shot 37.2-percent from the field (22 of 58) and converted 14 of 16 free throws. Minnesota shot and made five free throws in the final 1:55 (one by Ellis-Milan and four by Jackie Voigt) -- the same number the Hawkeyes attempted the entire game.
Smith totaled 14 points and four assists for Iowa and Ausdemore added 13 points and four assists. UI freshman and Minnesota native Kamille Wahlin scored eight points with seven rebounds and six assists.
The Hawkeyes won the rebounding battle 38-31, but Bluder said it appeared the Gophers gathered the important caroms down the stretch.
"We did a better job blocking out today, but we didn't seem to maintain that at crunch time," she said.
Iowa returns home to play the league-leading Buckeyes on Feb. 12 at 7:05 p.m. The Hawkeyes will attempt to end a 10-game losing skid against Ohio State.