The IUBB crunch-time misfortunes officially know no gender restrictions. Much like the Men in their overtime loss at Ohio State, Indiana Women’s Basketball blew a late lead Monday night, falling to Iowa 88-82. The defeats puts the Hoosiers at 19-6 (11-4) on the year, and knocks them all the way down to 5th place in the Big Ten standings. Here’s three things:
Thanks to COVID rescheduling, last night’s game was the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes second meeting in three days, as Iowa beat Indiana 96-91 in Assembly Hall on Saturday. Game 1 saw a valiant IU comeback effort fall short. On Saturday we were treated to what seemed like an easy Iowa victory until the Hoosiers scored an ungodly 42 in the 4th quarter, which both made it a game and built confidence heading into Monday.
We got a very different game last night, but the overarching theme remained the same: IU could not handle Iowa’s bigs.
Just like on Saturday, IU lost the battle on the inside. Iowa Forward Monika Czinano was yet again a problem, scoring 31 (off 13-17 shooting!!) and grabbing 10 boards. Hawkeyes Caitlin Clark and McKenna Warnock rounded out the rebounding podium with 8 and 7 respectively. As a team Iowa tallied 37 total rebounds, while IU had only 27.
Points in the paint were literally the difference. Iowa won that category by 6 (46-40), the same margin by which they won the game. Mackenzie Holmes’s paint presence made this game competitive, but she’s clearly still ramping back up after missing over a month due to injury. Holmes was 5-12 from the field with 4 boards, the same number grabbed by rotational Forward Kiandra Browne. Both Browne and Holmes fouled out in the 4th quarter while trying to slow down Czinano, allowing for the floodgates to open on the defensive side of the court. Czinano dominated the final frame. She took advantage of favorable matchups once Holmes and Browne were gone, scoring 13 points in the final quarter. IU simply could not stop her.
Much like the Men, this team struggles against elite Forwards and Centers. Iowa and Michigan should be avoided at all costs come tournament time.
IU won just two quarters over the course of their home and home series with the Hawkeyes. Iowa’s offense ranks 1st in the conference because of their ability to play quickly, and Indiana couldn’t keep up. Conference points leaders Caitlin Clark (1st) and Monika Czinano (3rd) push in transition and shoot the freaking lights out. The Hawkeyes’ ability to slip under screens and get to the rim in unsettled situations is complemented perfectly by the lack of fear they shoot with. They’ll pull from wherever, whenever, and once they got rolling in the second half IU had no answers.
Indiana typically dictates pace. In most games this year, they’ve been the team that hits the turbo, putting their opponents to bed in a matter of seconds. It was quite strange to see them on the other side of the coin. Hopefully we never see another third quarter in which this team shoot 30%. A consistent 40 minutes is all HC Teri Moren’s squad needs to win, we just haven’t been seeing it as of late.
Much like against Nebraska last week, we saw IU run out of steam and lose their composure late in the game. Indiana led 52-41 at half, but started stumbling with a minute left to go in the third. Two turnovers in twelve seconds trimmed their lead from seven to three, and then a 10-0 Hawkeye run completely flipped the script in the middle stage of the 4th.
The Hoosiers went scoreless for 6-ish minutes as Czinano single-handedly took over the game. Nicole Cardaño-Hillary did her best to keep IU in it, twice scoring to make it a one possession game in the last few minutes, but Caitlin Clark was better. The Big Ten Player of the Year candidate converted on a big jumper to put Iowa up 82-77 with 1:42 remaining, and then sunk two free throws seconds later to clinch the victory.
The Hoosiers were gassed. It is very hard to win when three of the seven players who actually see the floor foul out. They got tired. Some interesting foul calls (that many at CQ are alleging is the conference’s effort to cater to Clark) didn’t help, either.
Three losses in eight days is not something any of us expected from this team. The gap is growing in the Big Ten, and right now IU is on the wrong side of it. There is a silver lining, however, as things get significantly dumbed down from here on out. The goal is no longer prepping for the postseason, it’s to just win. Rankings, polls, and standings mean nothing in March; survive and advance is the name of the game.
The Hoosiers have one more tune-up before the show. A B1G Tournament double-bye will be on the line this Friday night when they travel to College Park to play Maryland. The final regular season tip of the year is set for 8pm, check it out!