8:00 PM ET, December 28, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Down 15 at halftime because of miserable shooting and even worse ball-handling, Iowa dug deep and threw Minnesota's tough defense back in its face, rallying behind Wendy Ausdemore's 23 points for a 58-56 win at Williams Arena to open the Big Ten season.Ausdemore's three-point basket with 6:42 left put the Hawkeyes up for good at 49-46, helping coach Lisa Bluder to her first win at Williams Arena in six seasons at Iowa."It's easy just to put your tail between your legs and go home, and our team did not do that." said Bluder. "This is the Iowa team I've been waiting to surface."The loss was the third straight for the Gophers, and the first in a Big Ten opener in five seasons under coach Pam Borton."Our team played outstanding in the first half, but our defensive pressure on the ball wasn't the same as it was in the first half," Borton said. "That was the difference."That, and the Gophers' inability to make shots from in close. They managed 23 offensive rebounds, but missed layups all night long. The last miss came in the closing seconds, when Emily Fox drove the lane but her shot fell out."I thought it was going in," said Fox, who epitomized Minnesota's shooting woes by making just three of 12 shots. The Gophers shot just 31.9 percent for the game.Iowa rebounded from a dismal 7-for-21 first half from the field by going on an 11-0 run early in the second half to get back into the game."We came out and just pushed the ball at it, took it at them," said Ausdemore. "I think they got a little tired."Iowa (9-5, 1-0 Big Ten) finally went ahead 40-39 on a driving layup by Kristi Smith, their first lead since Katrina VandeVenter's basket to open the game.Minnesota (8-5, 0-1) failed to get their offense on track in the second half, while Iowa began to surge. But a late run sparked by Kelly Roysland's two straight three-pointers, followed by a steal and a layup by Fox, brought the Gophers to within 57-56 with 28.9 seconds remaining.The Gophers made another steal and set up for the win, but Ashley Ellis-Milan's pass on the wing intended for Emily Fox was stolen by Jenee Graham, who made one of two free throws for the final point."I was glad to get my hands on it, glad I came up with it," said Graham. "We came out with aggressive defense and not allow them to get a wide-open shot.Roysland led the Gophers with 16 points, while Korrine Campbell and Brittany McCoy each scored 10."We have to learn how to put two halves together," said Roysland, the only senior and one of three returners from last season's Minnesota team that went 11-5 in the Big Ten. "This is the first taste that they got of what Big Ten basketball is going to be like."VandeVeter added 10 points for the Hawkeyes, who have won two straight after losing three in a row.The Gophers were aggressive from the outset, with Ellis-Milan picking up three steals, four rebounds and drawing a charge in the game's first 10 minutes to help build a 16-8 lead. Ellis-Milan had ten boards, the fifth time this season she's had double-digits in rebounds.Consecutive layups by Roysland and Leslie Knight and two free throws by Brittany McCoy pushed the Minnesota lead to 30-15. The Hawkeyes at the time had as many turnovers as points, and had missed 13 of their first 19 shots.