On a Sunday that had many in the midwest waking up to snow, the 4th ranked Iowa women’s basketball team had an in state battle with the Drake Bulldogs in Des Moines. And much like the weather outside, the Hawkeyes started out pretty cold.
From the opening tip, Drake showed they weren’t going to roll over for the highly touted Hawkeyes. Maggie Bair started off the game on a personal 6-0 run with three successive easy buckets in the paint. The big crowd at the Knapp center was going bonkers until a bucket from Monica Czinano got the Hawkeyes on the board. Czinano had herself a great half with 18 points as she was seemingly the only consistent force of offense the Hawkeyes could rely on.
Caitlin Clark would score five straight points for Iowa after Czinano’s first bucket to further quiet the crowd. However, Katie Dinnebier, an old high school rival of Clark’s, stole the spotlight from the All-American for the remainder of the first half. Dinnebier played with a nasty edge on both sides of the ball obviously set on proving herself against the nations best player. Dinnebier was perfect from the floor while pacing the Bulldogs with 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting. She also harassed Clark, making the Hawkeye star earn all of her 16 first half points.
A bucket by Grace Berg at the buzzer saw Drake end quarter number one with a 23-22 lead.
The second quarter opened with an and-1 from Czinano giving the Hawkeyes a quick lead. It was short lived however as Dinnebier hit her only 3 point attempt of the half. Iowa would never lead in the half again as Drake would go on an 8-0 run with 5:54 remaining taking a 36-28 lead. After some back and forth scoring, Clark would hit a deep 3 for Iowa with 2 minutes to go and the two teams would go into the half time locker room with Drake leading 45-41.
Coming out of the break, it was evident the Hawkeyes had more energy. Gabby Marshal, who had been quiet the entire 1st half, hit her first three pointer of the game to tie the score at 49. After a Dennebeir bucket, Marshall found herself open again in the corner and splashed home another three that saw the Hawks nab the lead 52-51. Drake would turn the ball over on the other end leading to a Mckenna Warnock three that capped a 12-2 Iowa run giving the Hawks a 55-51 lead with 5:51 remaining in the quarter.
The rest of the quarter would see both teams continually answer the other on offense in a game that quickly morphed from a half court fist fight to a full court frenzy. Czinano would close the frame out with a layup at the buzzer giving Iowa a 62-59 lead. The Bulldogs continued to lean on the leadership and grit of their sophomore guard Dinnnebier, who through three quarters of play was a perfect 8 for 8 from the floor.
As the 4th quarter began to chants of “Let’s go Drake”, the Hawks came out looking to fire from deep. A miss from Warnock immediately followed by a three point miss from Clark left the Hawks still hanging on to a three point lead. A foul on the other end would send the Bulldogs Courtney Becker to the line. In what would become a common theme for Drake, Becker was only able to connect on one of the free throws, cutting Iowa’s lead to 62-60. However, on the miss, Becker was able to corral the rebound and get the ball to Dinnebier who was fouled on her way to the basket. She would convert both and tie the score at 62 with 9 minutes to go.
Both teams would struggle for control for the next 6 minutes of play until Caitlin Clark splashed a long three at the 2:30 mark to a chorus of “Let’s go Hawks!” chants from the away crowd. As had been the case all game however, whenever Clark looked to take the game over, Dinnebier would answer. A drive to the bucket saw her get fouled and she would convert on one of the two free throws to cut the lead to 79-75. From there, Dinnebier and teammate Maggie Bair would will Drake to a tie at 82-82 with 24 seconds left after another Dinnebier layup. On the Hawkeyes final possession, Lisa Bludder looked to draw up a play for Czinano, but Gabby Marshall was unable to get her the ball and was forced to put up a wild shot at the end of regulation that never had a chance, sending the contest into overtime.
After a Drake turnover led off the period, Iowa’s two All-Americans took over. An aggressive drive from Clark followed by a layup from Czinano with Clark on the assist gave Iowa control of the game. Those buckets would push the lead to 86-82 which the Hawkeyes would never relinquish, on the way to a hard fought 92-86 victory.
Clark and Czinano would finish the game as Iowa’s leading scorers as will probably be the case for just about every game this season. Clark finished with 28 and Czinano would pour in 36 on 14-21 shooting. Warnock ended the game with an extremely quiet 11 points.
The Hawkeyes responded well to their first road test, but they will need to find a third and fourth scoring option if this is to truly be a special season.
Iowa is on the road again on Thursday against at 9pm eastern against the Kansas State Wildcats.