The #2 Iowa Hawkeyes (22-2/11-1) took advantage of a terrific second quarter to beat Penn State (16-7/7-5) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The story for the night was Iowa’s sophomore post, Hannah Stuelke. Stuelke finished with 47 points on 17-of-20 shooting and 13 made free throws to muscle the Hawks past a pesky Penn State squad. All eyes were on Caitlin Clark, of course. Clark showed the first signs of wanting to surpass the all-time scoring record in women’s NCAA history. Clark, despite having 15 assists, was not herself. She turned the ball over 12 times and her reactions were not fun to watch. As you know, I’m a huge, huge Caitlin Clark fan, but that was an ugly game. She did have 27 points and 15 assists. Clark will more than likely break Kelsey Plum’s scoring record in the next two games. Clark needs 38 points to reach the mountaintop. I would expect Clark to play a little more relaxed after that.
Penn State attempted 40 3FG (32.5%) and the referees called 51 fouls in a game that felt like it would never end. Hannah Stuelke was the star of the night.
Penn State’s defender flopped in the above clip (one of the few fouls not called). Stuelke is an excellent floor-runner and Clark creates havoc with how much attention she garners from all five defenders.
Stuelke has stepped up her intensity for demanding the ball in the low post. Without Clark next year (presumably), Stuelke will need to expand her back-to-the-basket game, but she has made significant strides from last year to this. Iowa got an excellent game out of Kate Martin (16 points/16 rebounds), and Sydney Affolter is becoming one of the best 6th players in the country. Syd played over 31 minutes off the bench and scored 9 points and grabbed 10 boards. Winning teams have players like Martin and Affolter. This Iowa team, powered by Caitlin Clark, is able to go on runs like no other. The Hawks went from down four points to a big lead in the blink of an eye (or a 30-foot pass from Clark to Stuelke in transition).
Up Next: At Nebraska
The Hawkeyes travel to Nebraska for Sunday’s noon game which will be available on FOX. The Hawkeyes beat Nebraska 92-73 on January 27th. In the first meeting, Clark scored 38 points (the same number needed to break the record). I tend to think that if it’s a close game, Clark may break the record. If the Hawkeyes have a commanding lead, Clark will “hold back” to
break the record at home.
Nebraska is led by 6’3” post, Alexis Markowski. Markowski averages 16.5 ppg. She scored 17 in the first meeting. Jaz Shelley, a 5’9” guard, averages 12.2 ppg; she scored 19 the first time around. The Hawkeyes will be tasked with defending this inside/out combination and not letting other players have a career day (as we often see on the men’s side). Nebraska fans, although not the best on social media, fervently support their teams. One of the benefits for the Hawkeyes of having the Caitlin Clark circus come to town is that the Hawks are used to raucous crowds and hostile environments.
After the Nebraska game, the Hawkeyes have just five regular-season B1G games remaining, including an excellent Indiana team and a rematch with Ohio State that will most likely determine the conference champion. As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye! Go Hawks!