By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa took what was offered and turned its game against Bowling Green into a manifesto of ball movement and open shots. The Hawkeyes shot a season-best 66.7 percent from the field to overwhelm the Falcons, 99-65, Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Our offense isn’t run to take bad shots,” Kate Martin said. “We tried to get our feet in the paint and be controlled in there.”
Five players scored in double figures including both posts, Sharon Goodman and Addie O’Grady. Reserve Sydney Affolter tied her career-high with 14 points by making all seven shots she took, including a coast-to-coast score after she stole the ball.
“I think we emphasize passing up a good shot for a great shot, and I thought we had a lot of “one-more” passes that were really great,” Affolter said.
Bluder cited Affolter’s early crashes to the boards that resulted in easier follow shots.
Martin had 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
“I think Kate Martin is playing so strong and confidently,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
“I think I’ve been getting a lot of paint points,” Martin said of her recent offensive surge. “I think I can attack the basket really well, especially when we have really great shooters on the perimeter. We have Caitlin (Clark) on our team. They draw a lot of attention.”
Caitlin Clark led all scorers with 24 points. She was 8-of-9 inside the arc but a frosty 2-of-11 behind it. She also added 11 assists and seven rebounds.
“(The Falcons) tried a diamond-and-one against Caitlin,” Bluder said. “Well, other people are going to score on this team. That’s what I love. We’re seeing different (defenses) from different people, and it doesn’t matter. I was just really happy with the way we’re distributing the ball and sharing the ball.”
Iowa made 36-of-46 shots inside the arc. It scored 72 points in the paint.
“Those are high-percentage shots,” Bluder said. “In their diamond-and-one we were able to get layups, and so you’re going to take layups; if they’re going to take away Caitlin, we’ll take the layup.”
Iowa (8-1) had 10 offensive rebounds over the shorter Falcons (5-2) and turned those into 14 points. It outrebounded the Falcons by 17.
Iowa established its superiority in the first half by shooting a mere .618 from the field (21-of-34) and 40 percent from behind the arc (4-10). The Hawkeyes spread the wealth with six players scoring in the half.
The Falcons, on the other hand, struggled shooting. Two of their best shooters and scorers,
Morgan Sharps and Amy Velasco, made only 3-of-17 shots in the half. Lexi Fleming carried the Falcons offensively, scoring 13 and showing the quickness that enabled the 5-5 senior to get herself free for shots.
“One of our keys was 3-point defense and held them to 25 percent,” Bluder said. “But they’re a pesky little team and you have to keep after it, and I was glad we didn’t lose our focus.”
Iowa’s lead lingered around the 15-point mark for awhile. Iowa wasn’t in any real danger of losing but just couldn’t shake Bowling Green. Then the Hawkeyes scored on 13 of their 16 third-quarter possessions to build a 25-point lead. The plucky Falcons ran out of gas trying to climb the hill.
“I think it was our defensive intensity,” Martin said. “We kind of let our defense flow into our offense and we started getting buckets in transition.”
Bowling Green’s Fleming would probably be an All American if she were five or six inches taller. The Falcons were also too small to compete with Iowa’s strong post duo of Goodman and O’Grady. Even when the Falcon guards got by their defender they were faced with an immovable Iowa post.
Bluder said that she hopes Hannah Stuelke will be ready to play at Iowa State on Wednesday. “That is the hope,” she said. “I haven’t talked to any of our medical people today, but that is the hope.”
The Iowa record for field-goal percentage in one game is .698, set in 2019 against North Carolina Central.