It was a much slower game than the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-1) asked against their in-state rival, the Iowa State Cyclones (4-4). It ended up being a low scoring game, but the Hawkeyes were able to stave off a real challenge by the Cyclones for a 67-58 road victory.
With the win, Iowa completed the intra-state sweep, with victories against Drake, Northern Iowa and Iowa State.
It was a back-and-forth game with the young, scrappy Cyclones proving that they could hang with the defending national runner-ups. The game was tied nine different times and there were a total of 12 lead changes. Head coach Lisa Bluder said:
We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. They slowed the ball down and did a good job at that, but our defense in the second half was really good, especially in the fourth quarter after they took the lead. Half time we talked about three-point defense, and they didn’t have a single three in the second half.
Caitlin Clark finished with a game-high 35 points, along with nine rebounds and five assists. She also became the 15th player in NCAA Division I history to reach 3,000 career points.
She knew going in that she was playing before a largely hostile sold-out crowd at the Hilton Coliseum nearby her native West Des Moines. However, she embraced the challenge and did what she does best, leading by example and coming away with her first and only win on the road against the Cyclones.
For a time, it looked as if the onus was on Clark to do a little bit of everything, which hasn’t always worked in the past for the Hawkeyes. She shot 31 of Iowa’s 63 total shots and scored all of Iowa’s 14 points in the third quarter. But it turned out she wasn’t alone, as Kate Martin helped to carry the load.
Martin played with reckless abandon at both ends of the floor. She finished with 16 points, four rebounds, three steals, and a blocked shot. She also is the first Iowa women’s basketball player to ever amass more than 900 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 120 and 60 blocks in a career.
How. ‘Bout. Kate. Martin? People, this is awesome! Congrats, Kate! So proud of you in every way! From your play to your leadership… you’re in a class of your own! Keep things rollin’! https://t.co/2jcRfR3pI1— Jan Jensen (@goiowa) December 7, 2023
In the remaining minutes, just as the Cyclones were poised for a potential upset and with the Hawkeyes’ lead hanging by a thread, Martin stole the ball off an inbounds pass that resulted in her being fouled while going for the layup; she would convert both free throws.
For Martin, it wasn’t the moment that crystallized the game because she was playing until the final buzzer, saying after the game, “I never feel comfortable until the final whistle blows. So we just knew we needed to stay together and keep playing until the buzzer sounded.”
What ultimately sealed the deal for the Hawkeyes was a 13-0 run with Sydney Affolter hitting two crucial free throws toward the end.
No. 4 Iowa will be on the road to begin conference play against Wisconsin (5-3) on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. CST.