Iowa Women Win Mythical State Title
By Jeff Linder, Reporter
DES MOINES, Iowa - At first, the comment seemed flawed with redundancy.
"When you have an advantage, you'd better take advantage of it," Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes had the advantage inside (i.e., Morgan Johnson), and they capitalized in an 82-65 win over Drake in a women's basketball game in front of 2,716 Sunday afternoon at the Knapp Center.
Johnson scored 26 points as Iowa (8-3) completed a sweep of its three state rivals and defeated Drake for the 11th consecutive time.
"She's one of the best players in the country, and she hurt us today," said Drake Coach Jennie Baranczyk. "We just don't have the size they have."
The Hawkeyes overcame six 3-pointers by Drake's Kyndal Clark, who ignited the Bulldogs to a fast start. Drake (3-6) built a 26-17 lead midway through the first half, but the Hawkeyes quickly disassembled it.
A 22-2 run swayed the game Iowa's way. Then, after Drake got within 63-59 with 6 minutes to go, the Hawkeyes scored 11 straight points and won going away.
"It was an emotional game, and they came out emotionally ready for us," Johnson said. "Once we started to match their intensity, we started to chip away."
Trisha Nesbitt, who grew up a half-hour from here in Ames, added a career-high 12 points for the winners.
"This was definitely fun," Nesbitt said. "A lot of people around here know who I am, and our goal was to win the state championship."
Bluder said, "Trisha definitely deserved this. This is the first year she's been pain-free."
Nesbitt was a nice side story. Johnson was the focal point. The 6-foot-5 post netted 11 of 19 shots, most of which came via interior feeds from Samantha Logic, Jaime Printy and Theairra Taylor, who combined for 20 assists.
Drake just didn't have anyone to match up with her.
"My guards did a fabulous job keeping the passes high," Johnson said. "It's awesome playing against people shorter than me."
As Jennie Lillis, Baranczyk was the fourth-leading scorer in Iowa history during her career from 2000 through 2004. She wasn't uncomfortable coaching against Bluder, her college coach.
"The most awkward thing was the first handshake, in front of every camera in town," Baranczyk said. "Then we were both in game mode."
Clark made 6 of 7 shots from long distance, including three treys as Drake built a nine-point lead, but Logic's 3-pointer put Iowa in front for good at 30-28, and it was 39-34 at the half.
"I think we played a full 40 minutes, but we had some dry spells," said Clark, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points. "We brought energy, and we left it on the court."
Morgan Reid added 16 points for Drake.
Iowa shot a season-high 52.5 percent from the floor and committed a season-low eight turnovers. Logic added 13 points.
The Hawkeyes host Missouri State on Wednesday, then close the non-conference portion of their schedule Dec. 28-30 in San Diego.
"We've accomplished two of our three (pre-conference) goals," Johnson said. "We got to the finals of the Preseason WNIT, and we won the state championship. Now, we want to win at least 10 non-conference games.
Drake hosts Saint Louis on Friday.
IOWA 82, DRAKE 65
At Des Moines
IOWA (82): Morgan Johnson 11-19 4-7 26, Bethany Doolittle 4-6 0-0 8, Samantha Logic 5-9 2-2 13, Theairra Taylor 2-5 0-0 6, Jaime Printy 3-9 3-3 9, Trisha Nesbitt 3-4 4-4 12, Kathy Thomas 1-1 0-0 3, Melissa Dixon 0-3 0-0 0, Kali Peschel 2-3 0-0 5. Totals 31-59 13-16 82.
DRAKE (65): Morgan Reid 3-9 10-12 16, Stephanie Running 3-7 0-1 6, Carly Grenfell 1-6 0-0 2, Kyndal Clark 6-12 1-2 19, Alyssa Marschner 2-5 3-5 7, Mary Pat Specht 2-7 2-2 7, Liza Heap 1-2 0-0 2, Ashley Bartow 1-2 2-2 4, Cara Lutes 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-51 18-24 65.
Halftime: Iowa 39, Drake 34. 3-point goals: Iowa 7-15 (Logic 1-1, Taylor 2-3, Printy 0-3, Nesbitt 2-3, Thomas 1-1, Dixon 0-3, Peschel 1-1), Drake 7-18 (Grenfell 0-4, Clark 6-7, Marschner 0-1, Specht 1-5, Bartow 0-1). Team fouls: Iowa 21, Drake 12. Fouled out: Doolittle, Reid. Rebounds: Iowa 31 (Johnson 8), Drake 32 (Reid 7). Assists: Iowa 23 (Logic, Printy 7), Drake 15 (Marschner 7). Steals: Iowa 5 (Johnson 2), Drake 5 (Marschner 3). Turnovers: Iowa 8, Drake 13.
What's On KCRG