The No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes came into Carver Hawkeye Arena Wednesday riding high after winning their first three games of the season convincingly and looked to add another W as they took on Southern University of Baton Rouge, La.
Not only did the Hakwyes come in undefeated, but head coach Lisa Bluder came in needing two more wins to get to 800 and join an elite class that includes some of the most illustrious names in college basketball in Pat Summitt, Dean Smith, Tara VanDerveer, and Geno Auriemma.
From the start, it was clear that Coach Bluder was well on her way to history as the Hawkeyes were lights out from the 3-point line with 12 of their first seventeen points coming from beyond the arc.
The Jaguars of SU held their own with their defense forcing turnovers — an attribute they have been commended for — and playing an effective full court zone early on to mitigate the Hawkeyes’ explosive offense.
But Iowa had advantages in terms of height and depth and as a result quickly and unsurprisingly jumped out to a double-digit lead.
Some notable highlights from the first quarter were the Hawkeyes’ dynamic playmaker Caitlin Clark scoring nine points all from the free throw line without hitting a single field goal and All-Big Ten honoree Monika Czinano being held scoreless.
Throughout the second quarter some of the similar themes were evident as Iowa was the team in control while SU remained competitive with their defense and forcing turnovers.
But Iowa’s lead was held steady in large part due to free throws with nineteen of their points coming from the line, proving the age-old lesson that free throws win games.
At the end of the first half, the Hawkeyes were up 55-37.
As the third quarter commenced it became clear that it wasn’t a matter of whether the Hawkeyes would win but rather by how much and if they could maintain a double-digit lead.
SU started to crawl back into it — not enough to change the outcome of the game, but enough to show Iowa they weren’t going out lying down.
The Hawkeyes meanwhile weren’t hitting enough easy shots they would normally make and were turning the ball over more than usual.
Nevertheless they were still in command and eventually got on a roll to where they were up by as many as 21 points and what was becoming noticeable was that it wasn’t just one player that stood out but a handful.
In the fourth quarter it was simply a matter of waiting for the horn to blow as both teams started to show signs of fatigue in what was ultimately a very fast-paced contest even for a blowout.
When the horn finally blew it was the Hawkeyes coming out triumphant, 87-67, giving them a 4-0 record and placing Coach Bluder within a game of that magical number.
The Hawkeyes were 24-of-52 (46.2 percent) from the field and 33-of-38 (86.8 percent) from the free throw line.
Clark had a triple-double with 16 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds and Czinano also had 16 points.
Junior guard/forward McKenna Warnock had a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Tomi Taiwo had 12 points.
Afterwards, Warnock confirmed what all who know basketball understand is obvious about free throws.
“I think the little things matter the most throughout the game,” she said.
“Being able to get to the free throw line so much now will help us in the long run and especially can make a difference in those really tight games.”
The Hawkeyes will host their neighbors, the Drake Bulldogs, on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.