Despite a 42-point fourth-quarter comeback attempt, No. 5 Indiana women’s basketball lost 96-91 to No. 22 Iowa on Saturday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana couldn’t win the rebounding battle or slow down Iowa’s offense in the senior night loss.
Iowa scored the first basket and Indiana was never able to tie the game back up, trailing for nearly 39 minutes of the 40-minute game.
Indiana started the game poorly, missing its first five shots and getting outrebounded 9-2 in the first three minutes of the game. The slow start allowed Iowa to take a 25-11 lead after the first quarter, the most points allowed in the opening quarter this season by Indiana.
“We looked a little shell-shocked there in the first half — in the first quarter in particular,” head coach Teri Moren said. “Just couldn't get any offense generated, couldn't get any stops.”
The Hoosiers were unable to cut the deficit in the second quarter and went into halftime down 46-29. The Hawkeyes’ 46 points are the most given up by the Hoosiers in a first half this season.
“We just dug ourselves a hole in the first half and we were playing catchup throughout,” head coach Teri Moren said postgame.
Iowa sophomore guard Caitlin Clark, who leads the nation in both points and assists per game, was the main focus of Indiana’s defense throughout the game. Graduate student guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary was Clark’s primary defender and largely contained her, but anytime Clark drove the ball inside, Indiana’s forwards were quick to slide over and provide help defense.
Clark, a Wooden Award candidate for proving herself as one of the best players in the country, scored 18 points and dished out 12 steals, using her offensive gravity to find open teammates on the perimeter. Moren said the Hoosiers tried to pick Clark up early in transition and minimize the damage she could do offensively, but Indiana’s defense was unable to execute.
“She’s a terrific guard, one of the best in the country,” Moren said. “We tried to build a wall so she didn't get any downhill drives all the way to the basket. We knew we were going to have to have great rim protection so our post players were going to have to rotate. That was something we didn't have.”
Senior center Monika Czinano led Iowa in scoring with 22 points. Junior guard/forward McKenna Warnock added 21 points and two other Iowa players scored in double digits in addition to Clark.
Indiana’s production on offense was led by senior forward Aleksa Gulbe, who scored 22 points and was one of four players honored by Indiana in the senior night ceremony postgame. Cardaño-Hillary, graduate student guard Ali Patberg and junior guard Grace Waggoner were also honored.
“I love playing here,” Patberg said about her seven-year career with Indiana. “It’s tough, and to lose is even tougher, but we’re not done at all. However many games I have left as a Hoosier, I’m going to give it my all.”
The loss takes Indiana’s record to 19-5 overall and 11-3 in the Big Ten, while Iowa improves to 17-7 overall and 11-4 in the conference. With Thursday’s result, Maryland takes control of the Big Ten standings and Indiana moves into a second-place tie with Michigan.
Indiana and Iowa will have a quick turnaround before their rematch at 8 p.m. Monday in Iowa City, Iowa.