IOWA CITY, Iowa — A topsy-turvy season was given yet another unexpected twist as the Iowa Hawkeyes played a make-up contest against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Sunday.
Iowa came into this game with much to feel good about as they were back in the Top 25 rankings at No. 25 and had recently defeated Minnesota by 56 points (105-49).
It was during the game against the Golden Gophers that Caitlin Clark made history by becoming the first Division I player to achieve two-consecutive 30-point triple-doubles.
The six NBA players who have achieved that feat since 2000 are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
From the get-go on Sunday, it was clear that Iowa was the far better team as it jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead with center Monika Czinano scoring eight of those points.
Meanwhile, Illinois went through most of the first quarter giving up offensive rebounds and routinely traveling the ball.
The mismatch was evident and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. Iowa concluded the first up 19-3.
In the second quarter, the Hawkeyes continued to assert their dominance and some of their bench players made critical contributions.
Most notably, senior guard Tomi Taiwo scored eight points in the frame, including a basket made off of a stolen inbound pass after she had scored.
Illinois would manage to squeeze in a basket here and there but their play was largely inconsequential as they were overmatched in every aspect.
Going into the half, Iowa was up 41-19.
As the third quarter commenced, it was merely a matter of how much Iowa would build their lead and whether Clark would grab yet another 30-point triple-double.
The Hawkeyes increased their lead to nearly 30 points and Clark was on fire as she reached 16 points with plenty of time to play.
She was also fulfilling her role as playmaker extremely well, utilizing her teammates at every turn and increasing her assist total.
At the same time, Czinano was also having a superb performance with 21 points going into the fourth. She was monumental on the boards.
The fourth quarter was rather uneventful.
A couple baskets here, a couple baskets there, and show’s over.
Final score: Iowa 82, Illinois 56.
Czinano had a game-high 21 points, Clark had 18, Taiwo had 14, and sophmore guard Kylie Feuerbach had 10.
Afterwards, Taiwo elaborated on the importance of the bench producing results.
“I think the bench is very important because if you look at some of our losses or games that have been closer the bench didn’t really produce as much as we could have” she said. “I think it is always important to just come off and have a good spark of energy in any way you can whether it is scoring, rebounding or getting steals.”
Iowa (12-4, 6-1 Big Ten) will travel to Penn State on Tuesday, while Illinois’ next contest will be at Indiana on Thursday. The Illini are 6-11 (1-5 Big Ten).