Fourth-ranked Hawkeyes ambushed by Indiana in Bloomington

On3 imageby:Kyle Huesmann02/22/24

HuesmannKyle

With the Indiana Hooisers coming off of an embrassing road loss against Illinois early in the week and returning home, hungry, with a sold out crowd waiting for them, you felt like maybe the Iowa women’s basketball team was walking into a hornet’s nest. On the otherhand, you felt like the Hawkeyes may come out playing relaxed and free with the Caitlin Clark scoring record hoopla behind them. The former proved to be the case, as the Hoosiers pulled off an 86-69 victory in front of a crowd of 17,222 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“We just didn’t play very well tonight,” said Bluder. “Indiana played a great game, they had a great game plan and I think it frustrated Caitlin at times.”

“For lack of a better word, we laid an egg over in Champaign and they wanted to come back and do it the right way,” said Indiana HC Teri Moren. “They were frustrated by it. They were a little bit embarrassed by it…You could see it brewing in the last few days of practice.”

Two things were pretty clear after the first few minutes of the game. Caitlin Clark may not have her best stuff and Sara Scalia did. Clark was 1/5 from behind the arc in the first quarter, while Scalia hit a couple of early three-pointers to give Indiana a 13-9 lead.

The Hawkeyes answered with a 10-4 run to take a 20-17 lead, but a second chance buzzer beater from Lexus Bargesser gave the Hoosiers a 23-22 lead after ten minutes.

From an offensive standpoint, Iowa never got in a true rhythm and in the second quarter, the majority of their possessions felt rushed, forced, out of sync, or all of the above. The Hawkeyes turned it over four times and shot 4/11 from the floor in the second quarter. When asked what whether it was the Indiana defense, their physicality or Iowa’s own doing that led to the offensive struggles, Coach Lisa Bluder had a simple answer.

“All of the above.”

Indiana outscored Iowa 21-11 in the second and the Hawkeyes went into the locker room trailing 44-33. Caitlin Clark did have 20 points, but she was just 3/9 from three-point range. She came into the game having made 25 threes over the last four games.

“(They were) being physicial, face guarding me, denying me the ball, threw a lot of different people at me,” said Clark. “Being physical, that was the main thing. Pushed me off of my spots, got me out a little bit deeper than I wanted to be.”

Early in the third quarter, it appeared as though the Hoosiers had designs on blowing out the Hawkeyes. A Sara Scalia basket, plus the foul and a Mackenzie Holmes transition layup forced Lisa Bluder to take a timeout just 1:46 into the second half. Iowa trailed 49-33.

Out of the timeout, the Hawkeyes showed some signs of life. A Kate Martin basket, plus the foul cut the lead to Indiana lead to 53-42 at the media timeout, however, the Hoosiers hit shots to keep Iowa from making any threatening pushes. Sydney Parrish, who played just six minutes against Illinois as she returns from injury, knocked down back-to-back threes to extend the lead to 59-42.

The best run of the night from Lisa Bluder’s squad came late in the third. With the help of six points from Addi O’Grady and a three-pointer from Gabbie Marshall, a 12-3 run whittled the deficit down to just eight points heading into the final ten minutes.

“We’re not really a team that plays from behind very much, but I will give us some credit, we kept battling, especially when they started the third quarter pretty well. We came back and cut it to eight,” said Caitlin. “(Indiana) always responded and had an answer.”

The biggest answer came right away at the beginning of the fourth. After the teams traded baskets to open the final stanza, the Hoosiers went, Holmes layup, Garzon three-pointer, Holmes layup. All of the sudden, all of the work to cut the lead to single digits was erased. It was 71-56 Indiana.

Iowa was never able to make a real run to get back in it late in the game and the dagger came with just over two minutes to play. Yarden Garzon found Sara Scalia with an extra pass and she buried a three to make it 81-68. Scalia finished with a game-high 25 points.

“You could just tell that was the dagger right there,” said Moren when asked at what point she knew the game was won.

“We didn’t have an answer for Sara Scalia tonight. She was really good tonight,” said Lisa Bluder. “Give her credit, she played really well today.”

The 86-69 loss drops Iowa to 22-4 on the season and 12-3 in Big Ten play, which all but hands Ohio State the conference regular season title. The Hawkeyes are now just 5-3 on the road in Big Ten play this season.

Caitlin Clark finished the game with 24 points, shooting just 8/26 from the floor and 3/16 from three-point range. In the second half, Caitlin had just four points on 2/13 shooting.

“We switched up what we were doing defensively. Switched more ball screens and off ball screens than we had the first time we played them,” said Teri Moren. “We tried to crowd her and make sure that we were a little bit physical and in her space…(we did) just enough to keep them out of a rhythm.”

Kate Martin finished with 19 points and five rebounds, while Hannah Stuelke added ten points and six rebounds. For the game, Iowa shot 26/67 (38.8%) from the floor and 5/28 (17.9%) from three-point range. Indiana outrebounded the Hawkeyes 42-33 and outscored them 13-5 in second chance points.

Up Next, the Hawkeyes return home for a matchup against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tipoff is set for 12:00pm CT and the game will be televised on FS1.

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