By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa –
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder didn’t mince words in describing the last play of Monday night’s 92-88 loss to No. 22 Ohio State.
“I thought (McKenna Warnock) got taken down. I thought she got mugged,” Bluder said in her post-game press conference. “She got mugged, and she should have been shooting two free throws. She got slammed to the ground so hard somebody else would have had to shoot the free throws.
“I don’t know; you just quit calling fouls after awhile, and it gets frustrating. The screens we saw tonight… I mean, I’m not sure I’ll be able to field a team after this. It’s that bad. That many kids were taken to the ground, slammed off screens. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Iowa (8-2, 14-5) suffered its second Big Ten loss and second conference home loss. Coming into the game Michigan (10-1) led the league and Iowa and Indiana (6-1) each had one loss. Iowa still has two games against Michigan, one against Maryland and one against Indiana.
OSU is right behind at 8-3, 16-4. The victory was coach Kevin McGuff’s 100th in the Big Ten.
The play Bluder mentioned came after Ohio State took a 90-87 lead on two Taylor Mikesell free throws with 18 seconds left. Caitlin Clark missed a 3-pointer, but the ball went out of bounds off Ohio State with 7 seconds left.
The Buckeyes elected to foul, and Kate Martin went to the line with 5.4 seconds left. She made the first and purposely missed the second. The ball went to the left side of the lane where Warnock was stationed. Replays showed she was bumped as she reached for the rebound and lost her balance, landing hard. After a scramble for the ball time ran out.
Bluder wanted a foul on Ohio State, but the referees called a foul on Martin during the rebound scrum.
The referees then went to the monitor, but they weren’t looking at the foul. They were only checking the time. Jacy Sheldon was awarded two shots and made them both with 0.4 seconds left for the final margin.
In addition to Ohio State’s physical play, the Buckeyes were quicker almost across the board. They made nine steals. But they also lit it up, making 11-of-24 threes.
Iowa’s best perimeter defender, Gabbie Marshall, played just 28 minutes because she was battered and bruised.
Iowa committed 14 turnovers, seven by Clark. Six turnovers came in the final quarter as the teams battled for the lead. Iowa led 83-77 with five minutes left but scored only one basket and three free throws the rest of the way.
“I could have executed down the stretch a little better, and I’ll take the blame for that,” Clark said.
While she’s taking the “blame,” Clark has to be given full credit for keeping the Hawkeyes in the game Her 43 points were one shy of her career high. She made 16 of 28 shots, including 7 of 14 3-point shots.
Monika Czinano finished with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Iowa built a nine-point lead with 6:23 left in the third quarter but couldn’t hold it. OSU’s terrific guard tandem, Mikesell and Sheldon, combined for 44 points. Without Marshall, Iowa had trouble defending the two.
“They’re great players,” Clark said. “Great players are going to make plays.”
It was an up-and-down game with skilled scorers on each side, but defense remains an issue for Iowa. The 92 points were the most the Hawkeyes have given up this season, and OSU shot 56 percent overall.
“It’s incredibly frustrating right now because I feel like our team played their hearts out,” Bluder said.