Indiana women’s basketball dropped an absolute banger of a game to the Iowa Hawkeyes earlier this afternoon, losing 86-85 in Iowa City. Caitlin Clark won it for the Hawkeyes on a buzzer beater three that was just nuts. She’ll get the clicks online she deserves for that one, but the Big Ten Champion Hoosiers are the ones with the hardware back home. Don’t ever forget it.
Here’s three things:
Iowa was great
Simply put, Iowa terrifies me. The Hoosiers are 1-5 against the Hawkeyes since I started on the beat and I usually begin to lose sleep two or three nights prior to a game between the two. They’re IUWBB’s current big rival, and the pace with which the play is infuriatingly fast. Caitlin Clark is probably the biggest villain I’ve encountered during my time at IU, and she was on this afternoon.
Clark finished with 34 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists on 12-22 shooting. She didn’t record the tenth-career triple-double ESPN was hoping for, but I’m sure this was just fine for their ratings too:
CAITLIN CLARK WINS IT AT THE BUZZER pic.twitter.com/fdRZr7Z1Pa— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) February 26, 2023
Tip the cap. She was the best player on the floor today.
Aside from Clark, the Hawkeyes got a great effort from Kate Martin who was recognized during Iowa’s Senior Day ceremony prior to the game. Martin dropped 19 and was lights out from three, shooting 3-4 from beyond the arc. Gabbie Marshall and McKenna Warnock also hit some big threes for the Hawkeyes, who were 11-28 (39.3%) on three point attempts.
Hawkeye forward (and noted Hoosier killer) Monika Czinano seemed like her usual self, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Iowa is really hard to beat when Czinano’s on the floor for 30+ minutes. She fouled out in the first matchup between these two teams, opening the door for Indiana to takeover in the paint. Hoosiers didn’t have that luxury tonight, Czinano got hers.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes did a good job doubling Mackenzie Holmes outside the paint. Holmes hit a couple deep jumpers early but didn’t get cooking in the paint until the third quarter thanks to Iowa’s timely doubles. They even forced a bad pass that led to an easy fastbreak layup— I’ve never seem Holmes so flustered with the ball. Props to coach Bluder, Iowa’s defensive gameplan was pretty good.
Indiana was great
The Big Ten Champions have got a ton of fight in them, I can tell you that much. They were trailing nearly the entire game, but never let the Iowa lead get too big. Until the last two minutes or so, the whole game pretty much went like this.
Iowa run to go up by 7-10 points.
Indiana cuts it 3.
Iowa run to go up by 6-8 points.
Indiana cuts it to 2.
Rinse and repeat. Loved seeing how calm the team remained throughout. Grace Berger (16 points) got them through the first onslaught with a couple big midrange jumpers. Sydney Parrish (18 points) hit was 3-7 from deep and hit a pair of huge threes to keep it close in the second half:
THAT PASS. @grace_berger34 | @sydney_parrish | #IUWBB pic.twitter.com/Ym70GX96jh— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) February 26, 2023
Talk about a logo three.
National Player of the Year candidate Mackenzie Holmes came alive in the fourth, finishing the game with 21 points and scoring seven of IU’s last nine points. She was awesome off the pick ‘n roll down the stretch, setting multiple earth-shattering screens that knocked Hawkeye defenders over. She turned Czinano into BBQ chicken in 1v1 situations and drew a huge foul (not a travel btw) when the game was tied at 83 with 1.5 seconds remaining. Holmes sank both free throws and Hoosier fans were feeling very good, but sometimes a game comes to whoever shoots last and today that was Iowa. It is what it is.
Career-highs in points and rebounds for Chloe Moore-McNeil (18) and Yarden Garzon (14!!) also deserve serious praise. Foul trouble aside, CMM once again handled the Caitlin Clark matchup well and Garzon helped contain Czinano down low. This afternoon’s defensive output was fine.
Only real question left to ask is if Mackenzie Holmes should’ve intentionally missed the second free throw. I personally think maybe...? I know a two can win it for Iowa in that situation but a tick and a half goes away real fast in a mad scramble for the ball, just have to hope they don’t grab the rebound cleanly and call timeout super quickly. Don’t think it mattered that much, but some interesting food for thought. I’m curious to see if Teri Moren will switch up the strategy if the Hoosiers find themselves in a similar situation in the postseason.
Probably a walk around the neighborhood, maybe a nap. Whatever floats your boat.
As frustrating as this loss was, it doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. The Hoosiers are still the top seed headed into the Big Ten tournament, and they’re probably a still a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament too.
Indiana will play their first B1G tournament game on Friday at 12:30p.m. ET. Their quarterfinal matchup will be played against the winner of Thursday’s game between #8 seed Nebraska and #9 seed Michigan State.
Although they finished in the middle of the pack, both UNL and MSU gave Indiana a ton of trouble during the regular season. The Cornhuskers took the Hoosiers to OT in Bloomington and the Spartans handed IU their first loss of the season in late December. Don’t overlook this first game, it’ll be a good one. Welcome to March.