Usually, the Iowa women’s basketball team starts slow and turns thing on in the second half. Wednesday, that was far from the case.
The No. 14 Hawkeyes blasted instate rival Northern Iowa in the final 10 minutes of the first half and put things on cruise control the final 20 minutes of the game to beat the Panthers 75-64 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Iowa led at halftime 48-29 and improved to 12-1 on the season.
“We executed in the first half very well,” Bluder said. “These are emotional instate games. You should get everyone’s best shot, and I thought UNI did a really nice job tonight.”
The win gives the Hawks the mythical state championship. Iowa beat Iowa State, Drake and Northern Iowa in the same season, something Bluder and her bunch have been trying to do for quite some time.
“One of our goals this season was to win the state championship,” Bluder said. “It feels good to finally do it because we have been talking about it for a long time. I am really proud of our women and how they competed in the non-conference season.”
The difference in the first half for Iowa was its ability to dominate the paint. The Hawks scored 16 of their 24 points in the paint in the first half. The Hawks also got 18 second-chance points in the game and out-rebounded the Panthers 40-35.
“I think you can see the percentage of shots we were taking in the second half that maybe weren’t as good of percentage of shots,” Bluder said. “UNI’s defense intensified in the second half, and we expected that. They battled back nicely.”
The Hawks were led by sophomore Jaime Printy, who finished with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Kamille Wahlin added 17 points and three steals.
“Jaime was one point away from her personal best,” Bluder said. “I think it is so fun watching her go to the hoop. She’s hard to guard. She did a really nice job tonight. And I thought Kamille was outstanding in the first half.”
Kachine Alexander scored 11 points and had seven rebounds for Iowa, while Kelly Krei grabbed a team-high nine boards. The Hawks also only turned the ball over nine times.
Northern Iowa (7-4) got 18 points from Jacqui Kalin and 11 points and eight rebounds from Lizzle Boeck. Erin Brocka also scored seven points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. The Panthers got 20 points from their bench.
“We have played against some pretty good people this non-conference season,” Bluder said. “It has been a good test for us. We have like the fifth or sixth best RPI in the nation right now. I think we have done a nice job of preparing ourselves for the conference season by playing some quality opponents.”