Hannah Stuelke grabs spotlight with record-breaking performance against Penn State
Sophomore from Cedar Rapids scores career-high 47 points in 111-93 victory
By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – On the way to celebrating another Caitlin Clark step toward the all-time scoring record, Hannah Stuelke said, ‘Hold my beer.’
The Iowa sophomore from Cedar Rapids Washington scored a Carver-Hawkeye Arena record 47 points and was just one point shy of the school record of 48 set by Megan Gustafson in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa needed those points to hold off Penn State, 111-93.
“I think my confidence is going to come up a lot,” Stuelke said after the performance. “I know now I can be more aggressive offensively. So that’s exciting. My free throws still aren’t where I want them to be, but I can keep working on that.”
“This is a huge really big thing for us because we need production out of our (posts),” Clark said. “To me Hannah is capable of, maybe not 47 a night, but she’s a 25-point a night (player). That’s the skill set she has; it’s just getting her to believe that herself.”
Stuelke made 17-of-20 shots, a red-hot 85 percent from the field. She drew an incredible 13 fouls and made 13-of-21 free throws. She is one of only four Hawkeyes who’ve scored as many as 40 points in a game.
“I think it’s really cool,” Stuelke said. “I remember watching Megan (Gustafson) and seeing her score so many points, and now like I’m the one that the little girls look up to. I think that’s just amazing.”
The Nittany Lions tried to defend Stuelke one-on-one most of the night, and it failed miserably. She beat the Lions down the floor continually for layups.
“I kind of just turn and go; I did track in high school and I was really fast,” Stuelke said. “I just turn and go down as fast as I can.”
Stuelke scored 32 of her points in the second half where it became obvious that her teammates were on the lookout for her either in transition or under the basket.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “My teammates did a great job getting me the ball. I had some mismatches in there.”
Stuelke showed off a variety of quick, sure-handed post moves. She caught the usual Clark bullet passes, and she made the shots. There was no fumbling around with the ball in the lane. Stuelke was like a scalpel in her precision down low. When she hit 40 points the crowd gave her a raucous standing ovation.
Stuelke’s high in high school was 44 points against Cedar Rapids Kennedy, and she beat that late in the game prompting the sellout crowd to chant her name over and over.
“This is just crazy; it’s such a bigger stage,” Stuelke said.
Clark finished with 27 points on a rather poor shooting night by her standards. She is only 39 points from overtaking Kelsey Plum as the NCAA career scoring leader. Clark had 15 assists, tied for the arena record, and many went to Stuelke. She, Kate Martin and Stuelke had the highest plus/minus grades, indicative of their overall value to the team. Martin had a game-high 16 boards and 16 points.
“I’m so pleased with all of them,” Bluder said. “Caitlin, again, had some amazing assists. Hannah was incredible running the floor. We just have people stepping up.”
Again Sydney Affolter was a key sub. Affolter helped match up with Penn State’s size and aggressiveness after Molly Davis could only go for 3 minutes, 45 seconds in the first half because of illness. Affolter played the most minutes of her career (31:19) and finished with 10 rebounds, nine points, three steals and three blocks.
Iowa had a big advantage at the foul line. Iowa shot 43 free throws to 28 for Penn State was called for 11 more fouls than Iowa. The Nittany Lions shot well in the first half, and had nine 3-pointers, but the law of averages caught up with their long-distance shooting in the second half.
When Stuelke was removed late in the game to another ovation, Clark went over to her.
“She said ‘I expect you to do this every game,’” Stuelke said with a sly grin. All the reporters laughed. Maybe they should take her seriously.
Iowa (21-2, 11-1) plays Sunday at noon at Nebraska, and it will be shown on FS1.