WBB: Iowa Hosts UNC In WNIT Final On Sunday

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The game ended, the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrated their overtime victory over Middle Tennessee, and the public address announcer encouraged the fans to stay in their seats.

University officials were awaiting a determination on the site for the WNIT championship game. The wait lasted a couple minutes as music -- the jingle from the Jeopardy game show -- was piped into Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Finally, the news came. The Hawkeyes will host North Carolina at 3 p.m. Sunday.

"One of our goals at the beginning of the year was to get to the championship of the WNIT," Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. "Now we're going to reassess those goals and win this thing.

"I think we get to host because it's the best environment for a national-television audience."

The Hawkeyes (3-0) got here with relatively easy wins in the first two rounds (against Northern Illinois and Illinois State), then the degree of difficulty increased tremendously in the semifinals.

Jaime Printy hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to tie it, then scored eight of her game-high 26 points in overtime as the Hawkeyes got past Middle Tennessee, 69-63.

Bluder said Friday that she expects Printy to get her first start of the season, replacing Melissa Dixon in the lineup.

Iowa has allowed 55.7 points per game.

"I feel like we had a big emphasis on changing our defense to a style that fit our personnel a lot this year," Johnson said.

And that style is ...

"We're not the fastest team in the world," Johnson continued. "But we are definitely the smartest, and we're smart enough to get in the gaps. We're a smart team, and we know how to play a smart type of defense."

North Carolina (3-0) has posted home wins over Davidson, Duquesne and Georgetown.

Printy suffered a torn ACL -- the second of her career -- last February, but looked perfectly healthy in Wednesday's win. She moved to No. 10 on Iowa's all-time scoring chart with 1,447 points.

"The kid is having a great career, gets hurt, and comes back and has a night like (that) and having the season like she's going to have," Bluder said. "That's a story everyone wants to be a part of."

Johnson is averaging 18.3 points per game to lead the Hawkeyes; Printy is adding 12.7.

Kali Peschel, who was projected by Bluder in the preseason to be the Hawkeyes' most impactful newcomer, has scored just one point in three games, and played just two minutes Wednesday.

"I think she's having a typical freshman year -- just the ups and downs of a freshman year," Bluder said. "I just think you've got to stick with those kids. They lose their confidence very easily as freshmen."

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt leads UNC at 15 points per game.

"North Carolina is a lot like Middle Tennessee, except their posts are much bigger," Bluder said.
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