Update: I’ve been back three days and the Hawkeyes are 3-0. Coincidence, probably, but I’ll be here as long as Iowa keeps winning. That is my promise to BHGP. Coach Bluder may want to consider hiring me on as a lucky talisman. For a point of reference, I have previously coached Kate Martin in volleyball so I’m taking partial credit for the team’s success! As the streak continues, I’m in secret negotiations to stay on through the men’s and women’s season.
Iowa advances to the finals in the Big Ten Tournament as they defeated Michigan State on Friday afternoon. The Hawkeyes will play top seeded Maryland who defeated Northwestern 85-52 to hold their side of the bracket. The championship game will be shown on ESPNU at 1:00 on Saturday.
Hawks defeat Michigan State 87-72
Three Hawkeyes scored in double figures as Iowa used a big second half to defeat Michigan State. Monika Czanino led the way with 27 points on 12-16 shooting. McKenna Warnock had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebound and Caitlin Clark chipped in 20 points with 11 assists. In addition, Iowa was 19-21 from the free throw line compared to MSU who went 6-14.
Before going on, can we talk about those ugly Spartan uniforms?
The game was close the entire first half with each team taking small leads back and forth. The Spartans led by one at half and then the third quarter started the same as the first half with no lead more than six points by either team. Clark ended the third quarter with a three-pointer (something she seems to do often) and from there, the game was never in doubt as Iowa ended up outscoring MSU 47-31 in the second half.
Next up: #7 Maryland
Iowa only played Maryland once this season. While the Hawkeyes scored 93 points, they gave up 111 as they dropped the game on the road. Clark scored 34 points but Iowa didn’t have an answer for the Maryland trio of Katie Benzan (29pts), Diamond Miller (27pts), and Ashley Owusu (24pts).
MIller and Owusu were named first-team All-Big Ten while Benzan was named to the second-team. Maryland is 23-2 on the season with losses to Missouri State and Ohio State. They have won twelve games in a row and have scored at least 100 points five times.
This will be a tough matchup for Iowa as Maryland is a team that can match the tempo that Iowa prefers but at an even greater level. Clark will need to play like a veteran and have a couple of her teammates step up to an even higher level than we’ve seen over the past three days. Czanino can set a record for most points scored in a Big Ten Tournament as she has 85 points in three games. The record stands at 100 points.
Win or lose, Iowa will be going to the Dance and will wait to see their bracket on Sunday.
Hawks Currently Projected as a Tournament Qualifier
With the win over Michigan State, Iowa moved up to a six seed in ESPN’s latest Women’s Bracketology. A win against Maryland would have Iowa looking at a five seed come Selection Sunday.