Lisa Bluder told her team during shootaround earlier today that they had a huge opportunity. They had a chance to knock off an undefeated team on the road. Despite playing without starting forward McKenna Warnock, the Hawkeyes could put the “overrated” takes that they had heard through portions of the season to rest. They did just that with an 83-72 win that left #2 Ohio State with their first loss of the 2022-23 season.
Despite being down a starter, it was clear in the first few minutes that the Hawkeyes still had the firepower to win the game on the road. Monika Czinano was nearly unstoppable with ten points on 5/6 shooting in the opening quarter, while Caitlin Clark racked up five assists. Still, it was Taylor Mikesell with a contested three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Buckeyes at 24-23 lead.
The Hawkeyes used a 9-0 run capped by a Caitlin Clark deep contested three-pointer forced Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff to take a timeout with his Buckeyes team trailing 32-26 early in the second quarter. Iowa controlled play and went into the halftime locker room with a 43-34 advantage.
First half storylines? Iowa assisted on 15 of their 18 baskets, including an impressive 9 assists from Caitlin Clark. The Hawkeyes also took care of the ball with just six turnovers. An Ohio State team that flourishes off of forcing turnovers was forced to score with their half court offense. They shot just 5/18 in the second quarter.
The Hawkeyes continued their stretch of good play into the early part of the second half. Back-to-back second chance buckets from Sydney Affolter pushed the lead to its largest at 56-44 and Ohio State was forced to take a timeout.
Although Iowa had controlled last the 15 minutes of the game, you knew that the Buckeyes were going to have a run in them. 19-0 record, forcing 23 turnovers a game, sold out crowd, there was most certainly a run coming. The rest of the third quarter was all Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes committed five turnovers and shot 0/9 from the floor over the final 5:56 of the quarter. Ohio State used an 11-0 run to slice the lead all the way down to 56-54 with ten minutes to play. Monika Czinano also was on the bench with four fouls.
The biggest shot of the game may have been the one that opened the fourth quarter. After going 6:29 without a point, Molly Davis knocked down her only shot of the game; a three-pointer to put Iowa up 59-54. It allowed the Hawkeyes to settle down and refocus. Monika Czinano re-entered with five minutes to play and quickly converted three baskets on three possessions. Kate Martin buried a three-pointer on the next possession and all the sudden Iowa was back up 75-62.
The lead did not get below eight points over the final five minutes of the game and a once one-possesion game ended up being a fairly comfortable final few minutes for the Hawkeyes. They pulled out the impressive 83-72 victory and handed Ohio State their first loss of the season.
Caitlin Clark had been on the cusp of a triple-double a couple of times over the last month, but in the biggest game of the season she broke through. Clark finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists for the eighth triple-double of her career. Monika Czinano battled foul trouble in the second half, but was once again nearly perfect shooting. She finished with 22 points on 11/13 shooting. Kate Martin finished with a double-double 13 points and 11 rebounds, as well as four assists. Hannah Stuelke had a career-high 13 rebounds off the bench.
What they did well…
1. Hannah Stuelke was a big key. With McKenna Warnock out due to injury, the Hawkeyes turned to the true freshman Stuelke. She was not in the starting lineup, but played 22 minutes off the bench and was a big contributor. Stuelke finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and zero turnovers.
2. Rebounding. The Hawkeyes outrebounded the Buckeyes 51-31. They pulled down nearly 40% of offensive rebound chances and 82.3% of defensive rebound chances. Three players finished in double figures rebounding. Iowa also led the second chance points battle 15-8.
3. The defense quieted Mikulasikova and Mikesell. The top two scorers for the Buckeyes scored just 20 points, which was well below their average of 34.5 points per game. Mikesell was held to just 2/10 from behind the arc, while Mikulasikova took a season-low four shots.
Up next for Iowa…
With the win, the Hawkeyes move to 16-4 on the season and into a tie for first place in the Big Ten at 8-1. Up next is a rivalry matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday. The Huskers are 12-8 on the season and 4-5 in Big Ten play, but the teams played a pair of close games last season. Tipoff is set for 12:00pm and the game will be televised on FOX.