(2) Iowa 98, (15) Illinois State 58: Quick Reaction

By RossWB on March 18, 2022 at 5:32 pm
go hawks go
© Meg McLaughlin/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Braydon will be along with the full recap in a little bit, but in the meantime, a quick post to celebrate the fact that the Iowa women absolutely took care of business (and then some) in their NCAA Tournament opener, wiping out 15-seed Illinois State, 98-58. Here are three quick reactions to Iowa's big win: 

* Iowa's entire team showed up for this game. 

Caitlin Clark led the way for the Hawkeyes, of course, with 27 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. That's certainly an attention-grabbing stat line, but it was amazing how many of her 27 points came in the flow of the offense; outside of some end-of-quarter hero-ball shots, she rarely forced shots or tried to dominate the action. That was most evident in the third quarter when Iowa blew the game open. They took a 14-point halftime lead and turned it into a 24-point lead halfway through the third quarter -- without Clark scoring a single point. A Monika Czinano and-one. A Kate Martin 3. A Gabbie Marshall 3. Czinano free throws. An Addison O'Grady free throw and layup. When Iowa's getting points from all over, their offense goes from excellent to unstoppable. 

* The "perfect" Monika Czinano.

Shout-out to Monika Czinano, who had a perfect game in this one: 18 points on 6/6 shooting and 6/6 from the free throw line. She also had 7 rebounds and an assist. She did have one turnover, so I guess her game wasn't completely perfect... but it was close enough. After a tight start, Iowa led just 21-15 at the end of the first quarter. Czinano also had no points in that quarter. Not coincidentally, once Clark managed to start feeding Czinano in the post and she started getting buckets, Iowa's offense started to click and the lead swelled. When Iowa can get an inside-outside game working with Czinano down low and a bevy of shooters outside, that's when they really start cooking teams. 

* The atmosphere for this game was electric. 

Neutral courts provide a fairer environment for NCAA Tournament games and improve the odds of underdogs pulling off upsets. But they sure don't have the atmosphere that a home court game like this had. This was another sellout crowd (the second in a row for the Iowa women, after the regular season finale against Michigan) and Iowa fans once again brought plenty of energy, passion, and noise to the proceedings. It was a lot of fun to watch on TV and, I'm sure, a lot of fun for the players to compete in as well. Great job, Iowa fans. 

NEXT: Iowa plays 10-seed Creighton on Sunday, March 20 -- start time TBA. The Blue Jays upset 7-seed Colorado in a game earlier today. 

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