Second-ranked Iowa women let one slip away in Columbus
Caitlin Clark OK after court-storming collision
By Susan Harman
This is one Iowa let get away.
The second-ranked Hawkeyes, riding a 15-game winning streak, led Ohio State 70-58 with nine minutes to play in regulation but couldn’t make it stick. The Buckeyes rallied to tie and won 100-92 in overtime.
This is not to say it would have been easy to close the deal. Nothing was easy in this game, including exiting the playing floor at the end. The sellout crowd (18,660) was loud, dressed in red and seeking, if not blood, something akin to it. It was physical for 45 minutes, 47 fouls, a few non-foul fouls, and 51 free throws.
But Iowa held its poise and managed to make plays when it needed to in building the lead. Ohio State took timeout with 8:49 left to stem the tide. The Buckeyes then scored on nine of their next 10 possessions. Cotie McMahon spearheaded the rally, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, on the way to a career-high 33.
The Buckeyes overwhelmed the Hawks in the overtime, scoring in all but their first possession of the five-minute period while Iowa managed two baskets and four free throws.
“I think they’re obviously aggressive offensively,” Molly Davis told the Hawkeye radio network. “Cotie going downhill, she’s tough to stop. And I also think the offensive rebounds that we gave up (contributed to the loss). We got killed on the boards tonight, and I think that’s ultimately what made the difference down the stretch.”
McMahon, a 6-foot bull of a player, was too much for Iowa either in a man-to-man or in a zone. In the zone the Bucks worked until they got the ball to her in the lane, and she moved defenders out of the way en route to the hoop. She drew 10 fouls from Iowa players and was primarily responsible for Hannah Stuelke fouling out. She also had a game-high 12 rebounds.
“The difference down the stretch in my opinion was Cotie McMahon,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder told the Hawkeye radio network. “I mean, she just kept driving it in. Drew (10) fouls. Went to the free-throw line. She has 33, a career-high.
“She was just too much for us. We couldn’t really figure out a way to guard her. I really thought (our) players were straight up (defensively) a lot of times, and obviously they were drawing the fouls. She’s a spectacular player.”
McMahon averaged 12.8 points per game coming in for a team that features balanced scoring. If she got the ball anywhere near the basket Iowa was in trouble.
“We just couldn’t keep the ball out of her hands,” Bluder said. “Then once she started driving it was over. It’s like a freight train coming at you. And it’s really, really tough to guard.”
McMahon was aided by star fifth-year guard Jacy Sheldon, who scored 16 of her 24 points after halftime. Sheldon served as a distributor until her team needed another scoring option, and she filled that role. OSU had five players score in double figures while shooting 49 percent from the field. The Buckeyes made 11 threes in 22 attempts.
Ohio State won the rebounding battle by four and had 13 offensive rebounds that it turned into 12 points. It seemed like a lot more.
“If I had any one critique, we needed one tenacious rebound down the stretch that we just didn’t go attack to get,” Associate head coach Jan Jensen told the Hawkeye radio network.
Often Iowa players were in position, but the ball got tipped by Ohio State’s jumping jacks. This was an old-fashioned game where OSU crashed the boards with multiple players instead of retreating immediately to the other end to prevent transition offense. And crashing worked.
“They had so many drives to the basket and offensive put-backs,” Jensen said. “And we relied too much on the 3-point shot at times again today.”
Iowa shot 46 percent overall and 36 percent from 3-point range. Iowa did a good job at the foul line (22-27), which kept it in the game. Caitlin Clark tied her career high with 45 points. She drew 11 fouls as she had to attack the basket after OSU devoted more defenders against her on the perimeter. She finished with seven threes and made 14 of 16 free throws.
Jensen said Iowa didn’t show great shot selection and didn’t manage possessions well down the stretch. Players tried to make a pinpoint pass in traffic instead of working the possession to get a clear shot.
“I think Lisa and I, we were talking to the staff, and we didn’t manage that,” Jensen said. “We just let that get away from us. I think we also made a few reads that they probably shouldn’t have. We pushed a little much, should have settled. But that’s a really good team. That was a heck of a big-time basketball game.”
Jensen said several players have been sick, and the week without a game will help them recover. “The hard thing is we have to sit on it for awhile,” she said.
“We did enough to win it and we did enough to lose it. And that’s when you know you’re not quite there.”
Jensen cited Iowa’s last two games in which Iowa’s defense has had a certain resolve to it.
“Even at halftime I didn’t quite see that collective, I don’t know what it is, tenacity,” she said.
She also thought the Hawkeyes weren’t really able to play as effectively through their foul trouble or take advantage of Ohio State’s foul trouble by running their offense at some of the vulnerable defenders.
Davis added 14 points and eight assists for Iowa. Stuelke had 10 points and hit the tying free throw with 10 seconds left in regulation. She also had the highest plus/minus on the team but only played 21:30 minutes because of foul trouble. Stuelke and Kate Martin each had seven rebounds.
Iowa is 18-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is 15-3, 6-1.
Clark was the victim of a court-storming at Value City Arena. She was walking off the court with her head down when a female fan holding a cell phone aloft ran her over. The fan disappeared into the bedlam, and Clark was helped up and off the court. An Ohio State player tried to stop and help Clark but she was manhandled by security and ran off the court.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith apologized to Clark, who appeared at the post-game media conference and said she was OK.
“They’re a really good team and we’ll see them on Senior night, so it will be a little bit of motivation moving forward,” Davis said.