Iowa women keep Big Ten title hopes alive with 80-60 victory at Nebraska
Cailtin Clark and Monika Czinano combine for 50 points
By Susan Harman
Iowa’s hope to repeat as Big Ten regular-season champions remains alive after the Hawkeyes buried Nebraska 80-60 before 14, 289 fans, Nebraska’s biggest home crowd in its history.
Iowa (22-5, 14-2) remains one game behind Indiana (15-1) and one ahead of Maryland (13-3). Iowa travels to Maryland for a game Tuesday night. Indiana plays host to Purdue Sunday.
“It was a good game,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder told the Hawkeye radio network. “When you have a road win and you win by 20 points against their best attendance ever in the history of their program, that’s a good road win.”
Nebraska never led but did tie the game in the second quarter before Iowa closed out the half on a 9-2 run courtesy of Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano. Clark posted up for the go-ahead basket and then somehow managed to score in transition one-on-four. She hit a three from the Huskers logo and then fed Czinano with a perfect pass as Iowa’s post cut to the left side of the basket.
“We liked how we closed out the second quarter,” Associate head coach Jan Jensen told the Hawkeye network radio show. “We struggled with some box outs, we let them have too many second-chance opportunities, but then we shored that up and came out in that third quarter and just didn’t let them back in.”
At halftime coaches preached focusing on the task at hand. The third quarter decided the game. Iowa scored on eight of nine possessions to push the lead to 59-44 and led 61-47 after three quarters. Clark scored nine, Martin four and Czinano four in that run. Iowa shot .667 in the quarter.
Meanwhile the Huskers were 1-for-7 from 3-point range and shot 29 percent overall in the third quarter. For the game Nebraska took 33 3-point shots and hit just seven (.212). Overall the Huskers shot 34 percent for the game.
“It’s kind of crazy because they have really good 3-point shooters,” Jensen said. “And you usually think ‘well, you better not zone them.’ But really our most effective defense against them the first time was our zone and it was again today.” They’re not hitting the 3-ball as consistently as they did or they should, but I think we covered it pretty well.”
Clark finished with 30 points and eight assists. Czinano had 20 points and seven rebounds. Martin finished with 10 points, which was important because the Huskers bottled up McKenna Warnock. Warnock only got off four shots but did have five rebounds and four assists.
“I think sometimes Caitlin thinks she can do anything she wants out there, which there’s a little bit of truth to that,” Bluder said. “But when you have somebody like Monika in the paint – you know we had 36 paint points –it’s so nice.”
Iowa shot 54 percent overall and 50 percent behind the arc.
Gabbie Marshall hit both of her 3-point shots and grabbed three steals.
Czinano got her points despite Nebraska’s attempts to force her away from the basket and jam up the lane to prevent dribble penetration and dishes to the post.
Nebraska native Taylor McCabe got in at the end of the game and drilled a 3-pointer. Bluder played all subs the final four minutes of the game.
“It was really important to me that she played and that she got to score,” Bluder said. “She is such a great kid and is going to be a wonderful Hawkeye. For her to come back to her home state and be on the winning side and score a basket makes me feel really good.”
Nebraska was led by Jaz Shelley’s 19 points; Alexis Markowski had 15 points and nine rebounds; Isabelle Bourne added 12 points. Guard Sam Haiby had an off day, making 1-of-7 shots. Iowa outscored the Huskers by 10 in paint points despite Nebraska’s size advantage. But Nebraska did win the rebounding battle by five.
— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) February 18, 2023