Adversity has come in many forms for the Iowa women’s basketball team this season. That started with a Covid pause where many of the coaches and players got sick and the team couldn’t practice together. It extended to two more long stretches without games due to finals and Covid issues in other programs. And it was exacerbated by non-conference performances that weren’t quite at the level that the team expected going into the season.
Coming into tonight’s game against Wisconsin, Iowa faced a few new forms of adversity. The first was overcoming a tough loss at home against #23 Ohio State. The Hawks have overcome tough losses before, but none stung as bad as the OSU game. Part of that was wasting an all-time effort from Caitlin Clark. A bigger part was several blown calls by the officials in the game’s final few minutes that first swung momentum to Ohio State, then robbed Iowa of a chance to tie or win the game late.
But a possible resume-building win wasn’t all the Ohio State game took from Iowa. It also robbed the Hawks of their health. Iowa was already without three players going into the OSU game due to injury, and then saw Gabbie Marshall and McKenna Warnock injured late in the game. Both were unavailable against Wisconsin, leaving Iowa with just seven healthy players. The Hawks would have to overcome frustration and a lack a depth to earn another Big Ten victory.
Iowa started the game with a four-and-a-half-minute scoreless drought, but Wisconsin only scored 4 points in that time. Iowa went on a 15-4 run from there to close out the quarter with a 15-8 lead. The Hawks didn’t look particularly good in the quarter, but it was clear that even an injury-depleted Hawkeye team was much better than the Badgers.
For most of the second quarter, Iowa’s lead sat between six and twelve points. Just as the Hawks would get to the upper end of that range, the Badgers would score a basket or two to cut it down. The Hawkeyes finally went on a bigger run to close out the half, and led 38-20 at the break.
In the third quarter, Iowa blew the game wide open. The Hawks led 65-32 after three, and cruised to an 84-50 victory.
Caitlin Clark led Iowa with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. She also didn’t play in the final 5+ minutes of the game, making that stat line even more absurd. Monika Czinano scored 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Addison O’Grady and Kate Martin were the final two Hawkeyes in double-figures with 16 and 10 respectively. A box score for the game is here.
Caitlin Clark just reached her 5th triple-double of the season and her 6th in her career for @IowaWBB— Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) February 4, 2022
That is tied for the 4th most in Division I history (official triple-doubles only), and also marks the 600th triple-double in history!https://t.co/zNoYNTek0a
Due to the injuries and blowout game, O’Grady and fellow freshman Sydney Affolter got more minutes than normal, and both took advantage. O’Grady’s 16 points were a career-high, and she looked like more of an offensive weapon than she has most of the year.
Affolter did particularly well on the defensive end, grabbing 8 total rebounds and getting a couple steals. Her offense is still a work in progress, but she has a lot of defensive potential as she gains more experience.
Before the game, Iowa announced that both Warnock and Marshall were out, but that their injury status was day-to-day. They certainly looked more injured than that on the bench, though. Warnock had a big cast on her left hand, while Marshall’s injured arm was in a sling. We’ll see if they can play on Sunday, but I’m not overly optimistic.
Iowa returns to action this Sunday, February 6, at 5:30 PM CT on the road at #6 Michigan. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
The Wolverines are 19-2 on the season and 10-1 in the Big Ten. On Monday, they defeated #5 Indiana at home to take the Big Ten conference lead. This will easily be Iowa’s biggest challenge of the year to date.