Iowa women finally get satisfaction against Kansas State
Caitlin Clark hits critical threes in final minutes of 77-70 win in Florida tournament
By Susan Harman
Iowa mined the sand along the Gulf coast, went down the wrong tunnel a couple times, but dug deep enough to find Kansas State’s Kryptonite.
The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes avenged their only loss of the season by defeating the Wildcats 77-70 Sunday night to win the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Estero, Fla. Iowa beat the Wildcats for only the second time in eight tries and the first time for this group of players.
The Hawkeyes (7-1) were terrific in the first and third quarters but fell into some bad habits in the second and fourth. Iowa led by as many as 13 points late in the first quarter only to be outscored 23-12 in the second quarter when the offense stagnated and KSU went on an 11-0 run.
When that happened Iowa seemed to hoist up shots from the perimeter without considering alternatives. It also missed some high-percentage shots around the basket.
All of a sudden the Wildcats has erased the lead. At halftime Iowa led 39-38, and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder preached a calm, cool and collected approach.
“We talked a lot about having a calm focus,” Bluder told the Hawkeye radio network. “Just breathe deeply and stay calm, stay in the moment. I think our team did that because basketball is a game of momentum and a game of runs. You saw back and forth. But toward the end, man, Caitlin (Clark) has a big one and we got the defensive stop at the end.”
Iowa outscored KSU 24-16 in the third quarter to take a 63-54 lead. But the Wildcats clawed back into the game with another 11-0 run and took a 68-67 lead with 2:44 left to play. Again Iowa was missing shots inside, and it had no offensive rebounds in that stretch. The game had a déjà vu vibe.
Finally Kate Martin broke the dry spell, driving the left side of the lane to retake the lead 69-68. Iowa got a stop and Addie O’Grady’s rebound gave Iowa the ball. Clark then hit back-to-back threes to more than match Serena Sundell’s basket for KSU. Iowa led 75-70. Iowa made only 2-of-6 free throws down the stretch, but K-State’s offense was disorganized and couldn’t muster any kind of score in the last minute.
“It kind of felt similar to how we played them a week ago,” Clark told Flohoops. “They made a little run at the end, but I thought this time we were a little calmer at the end of the game. We made some big shots, and they’re a really good team. They’re a top-25 team.”
Clark finished with 32 points, six assists, five rebounds and was named most valuable player of the tournament. Molly Davis, also on the all-tournament team, had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Martin had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Iowa was without Hannah Stuelke for the second game after she injured an ankle in Friday’s win over Purdue-Fort Wayne. Sharon Goodman started and finished with eight points and six rebounds but was in foul trouble the whole game and played just 18 minutes. O’Grady spelled her and scored six. A.J. Ediger got in briefly with both bigs in foul trouble, but Bluder elected to go with a smaller lineup at times.
Iowa’s three posts were 6-of-11 with eight rebounds and committed eight fouls trying to guard 6-6 Ayoka Lee. Lee scored 18 as did Sundell to lead KSU.”
“I’m thrilled for our bigs,” Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen said to the Hawkeye radio network. “I thought they held their own, and we’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Bluder was happy with the team’s ability to handle the foul problems in the post. “You know, Kate’s playing the five position; she doesn’t really do that. With Hannah out we were kind of put into some weird situations, but we were able to handle it, and I’m really proud of them for that.”
Iowa shot 42 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. KSU was 50 percent from the field but committed 12 turnovers to Iowa’s six. The six turnovers were a season-best for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes play again at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Bowling Green.