ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Lisa Bluder can't see the future, but she certainly knew her University of Iowa women's basketball team was going to have its hands full when they visited Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan to face the Wolverines.
The Hawkeyes used all 40 minutes to earn a 68-64 victory over Michigan. The loss was the 10th of the season by eight points or less for the home team. That fact was on Bluder's mind when she me the media earlier in the week.
"They've had some pretty crazy games, particularly at home. They've also lost a lot of games that they were in and could have easily won," Bluder said last Tuesday afternoon.
Iowa led from start to finish and at one point in the second half led by as many as 16 points...but don't get the impression the Hawkeyes' 18th victory of the 2008-09 season - and their 11th in Big Ten Conference play - was easy. It simply wasn't.
Iowa struggled from the field, shooting just 38 percent and committed 17 turnovers. However, they nailed nine of 11 free throws including three of four Kachine Alexander in the game's final 18 seconds when Bluder's Bunch was trying to withstand three-pointer after three-pointer by the home team.
The Wolverines sank nine of its 22 attempts from behind the arc.
"We preached to the kids about how competitive Michigan has been all year. The kids did a great job of preparing for a 40-minute game. And, as a coaching staff, we were pleased to win despite the fact that we didn't play well offensively," said Jan Jensen, the UI's associate head coach.
Iowa's seniors were the difference-makers on this particular day. Wendy Ausdemore scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Kristi Smith added 13 points, and Megan Skouby eight points and eight rebounds. "I think they're (the seniors) are clearly rising to the occasion. It's pretty fun to watch," said Bluder.
Alexander added nine points, eight rebounds and five assists and JaAnn Hamlin nine points.
Iowa dominated the glass, outrebounding the Wolverines 50-32, an edge that included a 19-7 margin in offensive rebounds.
"We like to be a good rebounding team. We've been inconsistent. We told the kids that rebounding today was an area of the game that we should win and win big," Jensen added, noting that the Hawkeyes got 14 second-chance points as a result of their commitment ot the offensive boards.
Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday to entertain Illinois in Senior Day. Game time is set for 8 p.m.