Some were expecting a more competitive matchup, but the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-1, 2-0) had other plans in mind as they dominated the Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-2, 1-1) 94-71 to close out 2023 and officially begin their conference schedule.
The win also makes it 10 in a row since losing to Kansas State. It also coincided with Alumni Day and the celebration of the history of Iowa women’s basketball.
From the opening tip, the Hawkeyes wasted no time and got right down to business. They scored at will and crashed the boards relentlessly. Their transition game was smooth as silk as they completely outran the Gophers. They also had the extra benefit of poor shooting from the Gophers, especially from the outside. Minnesota shot 39.4 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from the 3-point line, but compensated, in part, at the free throw line, converting 70.6 percent. Iowa was 58.3 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from the 3-point line and 59.1 percent from the free throw line.
Caitlin Clark was unconscious from her favorite spot on the floor. She hit eight 3-pointers and finished with a double-double of 35 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. In addition, she became the Big Ten’s all-time assist leader. Clark now has accumulated 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 1,000 assists for her career.
Hannah Stuelke was almost perfect from the field in a mismatch against Minnesota’s Sophie Hart. She was 9-for-10 and finished with 19 points, while leading the game with eight rebounds. Afterwards, she spoke about the importance rebounding, sharing, “I think it is really important, especially defensive rebounding. Limiting their offensive rebounding was really important so they don’t get [second] chance points as much.”
Kate Martin was an effective scorer on the glass as well. She finished with 13 points and six rebounds. Syd Affolter was solid coming off the bench, coming away with eight points and six rebounds while going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Although she didn’t score, Gabbie Marshall was tremendously impactful on defense as she led the Hawkeyes in plus/minus with plus-32.
While the scoring game was somewhat competitive in the paint (48-42), the Hawkeyes blew the game open with some strong play in second chance points (15-7), fastbreak points (17-4) and bench points (25-12). Clark noted how effective the defense was, among other factors, saying after the game:
Honestly I thought our defense was good so that leads to a lot of stuff in transition. Hannah ran the floor really hard. I thought our 4s and 5s did a really good job taking the ball out really quickly, taking the ball out very quickly, getting it into the sides we wanted to get into.
It was another win that confirmed that the Hawkeyes are better together, as opposed to relying only on Clark.
“We can’t do what we want to accomplish with just Caitlin scoring,” said head coach Lisa Bluder. “It has to be more than that. I honestly believe that it can be anybody. I think there is absolutely anybody that can contribute.”
No. 4 Iowa (13-1, 2-0) will be back at home on Tuesday, Jan. 2 to take on Michigan State (11-2, 1-1) at 8 p.m. CST.