The Iowa Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome a first half buzzsaw from the LSU Tigers in a 102-85 loss in the National Title Game. Even though loss puts a frustrating end to Iowa’s season, it was an absolutely extraordinary ride from Lisa Bluder and Company.
The Hawks’ postseason run kicked off, in earnest, with Caitlin Clark’s buzzer beating three-pointer against Indiana. While the win was meaningless in the standings, it set a tone going into tournament play that Iowa - and Clark - were not to be trifled with.
The Hawks won three games in three days, again in Minneapolis to take home the Big Ten Tournament crown. They took down three tournament teams in Purdue (69-58), Maryland (89-84), and Ohio State (105-72) to launch up the AP rankings to second in its final iteration.
The four-game run wasn’t enough to lock them into a 1-seed but the bracket opened up for them after two wins over Southeast Louisiana and Georgia in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to get to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2015. Two no-nonsense victories in Seattle against six-seeded Colorado and five-seeded Louisville set up The One between Iowa and undefeated South Carolina.
The matchup between the past two Players of the Year (Clark & Aliyah Boston) proved worthy of the hype as Clark powered the Hawks over the Gamecocks as Iowa was able to keep Boston in check. Despite the disadvantage in size, Monica Czinano finished with 18 points as Dawn Staley refused to help off Iowa’s shooters and Clark sliced & diced in the pick & roll.
Sadly, Iowa had too much to overcome in the finale as foul trouble plagued both teams but the Tigers’ bench came up big with starters sitting out, primarily Jasmine Carson and her 5/5 shooting from deep. In the second half, Iowa mounted run after run, with Caitlin Clark once again notching 30-plus points en route to the tournament scoring record, but LSU answered every single one and then some.
In a single-elimination tournament, you have to be able to overcome not playing your A-game, which, in my estimation, Iowa brought in the prior five outings. They didn’t today and the Tigers proved too steep a hill to climb without it.
We’ll have more in coming days on the game today as Bartt’s been excellent in his recapping and previewing throughout the tournament but wanted to give today’s result some proper space for reminiscing & venting, which I’m sure will come in equal parts.
Thank you for the boatload of memories, especially Monica Czinano and McKenna Warnock who played their final games in the black & gold.