Indiana’s 13 game win streak came to an emphatic end with a blowout loss to the no. 3 Hawkeyes in Iowa City. The Hoosiers kept it close through one quarter, but then Caitlin Clark started hitting from deep and things went downhill quickly for Indiana.
Clark had herself a game, but she was just one of four Hawkeye starters to reach double digits in scoring. Iowa’s four non-Clark starters combined to hit eight 3-pointers tonight, two more than Indiana made as a team.
Indiana missed some open looks, but Iowa also defended extremely well tonight, holding the Hoosiers to their lowest point total on the season. Yarden Garzon was the only Indiana player to make multiple 3-pointers tonight, though it was offset by her six turnovers and shaky defense.
Indiana will have a chance to get revenge in Assembly Hall this February, but Iowa looked like the top team in the conference tonight and played like it wanted to prove it. The Hoosiers will need to bring their A game to pull off the win at home next month.
Here’s Three Things we learned:
In Iowa’s lone loss this year, Clark went 2-16 from 3-point range, turned it over four times, and finished with just three assists against an unranked Kansas State team. When she opened tonight going 0-6 from deep in the first quarter, I had some hope that we’d see another off night.
Unfortunately, she only missed another four 3-pointers for the rest of the night while making six, including two from the logo. When the best player in the country is playing at the top of her game, there’s only so much you can do.
Clark finished the night with 30 points, somehow below her season average, but also had 10 assists and five boards, doing a little bit of everything for Iowa. She’s too good off the dribble to play one on one, too good of a passer to double team, and can make shots from anywhere on the court.
Teri Moren will have another chance to game plan around her this year, but at this point it seems like the best thing Indiana can do is hope she decides to go to the WNBA after this season.
When you play an offense as good as Iowa’s, every possession has to count. This is true for every team, but especially true for teams like Indiana, who entered the game with nearly 200 fewer 3-point attempts than Iowa on the season.
Even in the first quarter, before Iowa’s offense had kicked into full gear, Indiana’s six turnovers kept it from capitalizing on the work it was putting in on the defensive end. Some of the most costly turnovers came right on the heels of a defensive stop - mistakes a team simply cannot afford against an Iowa squad getting 1.23 points per possession.
Iowa defended well, but there were a lot of mental mistakes on Indiana’s part as well. Between the errant passes, miscommunications, and traveling violations, the Hoosiers looked intimidated by the sold out crowd in Carver-Hawkeye arena.
Given this team’s experience, including in front of sold out crowds, I expect this to be corrected by the next time Indiana sees Iowa. Moren’s teams do not typically look this sloppy and there are enough seniors on this team to keep them composed against elite competition like Iowa.
Through three quarters tonight, Caitlin Clark had made as many 3-pointers as all of Indiana had. By the end of the game, Iowa had three times as many makes on 16 more attempts.
Of Indiana’s four top 3-point shooters, only two - Chloe Moore-McNeil and Yarden Garzon - got to their average number of 3-point attempts tonight. Sara Scalia and Sydney Parrish, Indiana’s other two top shooters, combined to go 1-8 tonight.
While Indiana’s still runs through Mackenzie Holmes, each of those four guards came into the night shooting better than 35% from 3-point range on more than 2.5 attempts. As we saw with the perfect shooting quarter against Nebraska, this is a team that can score in a variety of ways.
Most teams will struggle enough with Holmes inside that its a moot point, but Indiana may have to get away from its bread and butter to hang with a team like Iowa that can light it up from three.
Indiana has the personnel to play more of a perimeter-oriented game and will likely need to lean on it more if it wants to repeat as Big Ten champions or beat Iowa in the postseason.