Just over three weeks ago, Ohio State ended Iowa’s 42-game home winning streak with an 84-82 victory in overtime. The Hawkeyes held the lead for long stretches of that game, before surrendering it late. Tonight, Iowa was looking to return the favor and defeat the Buckeyes in their house.
Early on, an upset looked possible. The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 9-2 lead behind a hot start from Monika Czinano and Caitlin Clark. Iowa’s 2-3 zone was also forcing the Buckeyes into turnovers, and they missed most of the shots they did take.
Unfortunately, Iowa’s advantage didn’t last. Ohio State shot just 30% in the first quarter, but they also grabbed 8 offensive rebounds, which led to them taking significantly more shots than Iowa in the quarter. The Hawkeyes also cooled off offensively, not getting as many looks at the basket. All told, Ohio State led Iowa 18-16 after one.
The second quarter was dominated by Ohio State. Iowa changed between man and zone defense in the quarter, and the Buckeyes took advantage, getting plenty of open shots and hitting at a much better rate. Iowa, meanwhile, struggled to get the ball into the paint and missed most of the jumpers they took. Ohio State extended its lead to double-digits three and a half minutes into the quarter, and led 41-30 at the half.
Iowa’s offense finally broke out in the third quarter. The Hawks scored 27 points in the quarter, thanks mostly to going 4-6 from three and 9-9 from the free throw line. Ohio State scored 22 points of their own in the quarter, however, and still led 63-57.
The fourth quarter was a track meet. Both teams pushed tempo, and were largely successful in making open shots that the tempo created. Iowa cut the lead down to four on multiple occasions, but couldn’t get the stop they needed to cut the lead down to one possession. Ohio State ultimately won 92-87.
Clark led Iowa with 30 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds. Czinano finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds. She was in foul trouble for most of the game, and that had an impact on Iowa’s offense in the second quarter in particular. Tomi Taiwo had a career high 13 points. More on her below. McKenna Warnock was the last Hawkeye in double figures with 12. A box score for the game is here.
In the first half, Iowa looked overmatched by Ohio State. Ohio State’s Dorka Juhasz didn’t play in the first game in Iowa City, but she played in this game and with her it looked like Ohio State was clearly better than Iowa on both ends of the floor. Credit to Iowa for battling back in the second half and keeping the game close throughout.
Tonight’s game was another example that Iowa can’t use offense alone to win close games. Iowa’s offense in the second half was excellent. But in the fourth quarter especially, Iowa couldn’t get the consecutive stops that they needed to put real pressure on the Buckeyes. Iowa’s good teams of the last few years have also been offense-focused, but were strong enough defensively to get the stops they needed to win close games against ranked opponents.
Tonight was undoubtedly Tomi Taiwo’s best game as a Hawkeye. While Iowa is a good offensive team in general, it isn’t particularly good at taking opponents off the dribble from the perimeter. Only Clark does it with frequency. Tonight, Taiwo beat her defender to the basket multiple times. She also hit a three, drew multiple fouls, and forced a couple turnovers on defense.
I’d like to see Taiwo get more minutes moving forward. Her athleticism offers Iowa a dynamic that it doesn’t otherwise have at the 2 or 3 positions. And her biggest mistakes on court are due in large part to a lack of playing time and experience.
Iowa returns to action on Sunday, February 7th at 1 PM CT at home against #17 Indiana. The Hoosiers are 10-4 on the season, and 8-2 in the Big Ten. The game will be televised on ESPN2.