It was more of a grind than anticipated, but a second half surge propelled the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) to a dominating 94-53 victory on the road against the Northern Iowa Panthers (1-1) before a sold out crowd. Not only that, but history was made. Iowa also is on the cusp of potentially securing the sacred position of the No. 1 team in the nation.
By far the superior team, the Hawkeyes’ expected dominance was hampered in the first half by a pressure packed Panther defense and some questionable officiating that disrupted the flow of play; over 50 fouls would be called in the game. Plus, Iowa started off cold from the 3-point line—at one point converting only 18.2 percent—and had to generate points inside the arc and at the foul line.
Still, the Hawkeyes held onto a double figures lead throughout the first half.
In the second half, the Hawkeyes poured it on, outscoring the Panthers 54-28 and shooting considerably better from all spots on the court.
Caitlin Clark did what she does best—and then some. She notched her first triple-double of the season with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. She also surpassed Megan Gustafson to become the all time leading scorer in Iowa women’s basketball history.
It is something Clark savors because she gets to achieve such a feat with her teammates and with head coach Lisa Bluder at the helm. “Obviously it’s special getting to do it with this group,” she said. “It speaks to the culture that Coach has built here. She develops really great players, but also people that want to see other people succeed.” Clark also spoke of wanting to see another player challenge the record she now holds now in the future.
Not to be outdone, Kate Martin made history in her own right as she notched her 500th career rebound in a game in which she finished with eight boards to go along with nine points. Hannah Stuelke finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds, her third consecutive game in which she has scored in double figures. Gabbie Marshall was lights out from beyond the arc, hitting five 3-pointers and finishing with 17 points. After some recent shooting woes, Marshall had to talk some confidence into herself—and it paid off.
The Hawkeyes finished shooting 51.7 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from 3 and 72.4 percent from the foul line. Defensively, they locked in as they held the Panthers to 25 percent shooting. Iowa also had 44 defensive rebounds to Northern Iowa’s 20, which helped fuel the Hawkeyes’ transition offense.
What’s next for Iowa?
After No. 1 LSU lost to No. 20 Colorado and NC State upset No. 2 UConn, Iowa might be poised to become the No. 1 team in the nation. While many are anticipating that to be the case, Bluder is not so sure, offering a bit of humorous contentment with the way things are now. “We will see if we are or not,” she said. “But it really doesn’t matter. It is a long year, 30 games, a lot can happen. What are we this week three? That’s pretty darn good too, so we’ll take that. “
No. 3 Iowa (3-0) will be back home to take on Kansas State (2-0) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. CST.