After enduring a heartbreaking defeat at No. 12 Ohio State last weekend, No. 5 Iowa returned home and came away with a hard-fought and convincing victory over Nebraska, 92-73. The game showcased the Hawkeyes’ two contrasting tempos, which made it a closer game than expected, despite the final margin.
In the first half, Iowa played conservatively and couldn’t generate a run after they jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Nebraska stayed in contact and even led by as many as four points as the Hawkeyes were struggling to make shots, handle the ball, and, especially, crash the boards. The Cornhuskers were able to rely on the prowess in the paint of Alexis Markowski and the sharp shooting on the perimeter by Jaz Shelley. But as the first half wound down, the Hawkeyes got on the run that they needed, scoring nine unanswered points.
From there, Iowa was not to be stopped, as they would outscore Nebraska a combined 56-42 en route to victory. And they did so by unleashing an offensive onslaught, led by none other than Caitlin Clark. She would go on to hit eight 3-pointers and finish with 38 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Clark is now four points shy of eclipsing Jackie Stiles for third place on the all-time scoring list in NCAA women’s college basketball history.
Kate Martin was just as prevalent, as she was all over the floor at both ends. She finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Syd Affolter came off the bench and modeled herself after Martin with her scrappiness, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, one block, one steal and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Hannah Stuelke stepped up with seven points, four rebounds and three steals. Taylor McCabe came off the bench and added two 3-pointers, which got the crowd and the bench ecstatic.
Molly Davis only scored a basket, but added to her playmaking pedigree to equal Clark with a game-high six assists. Head coach Lisa Bluder took notice of her growth in that role, saying after the game:
Molly in my opinion does whatever we need her to do. If that means score 12 points this game or two points this game and just pass the ball. She is the most unselfish player I have coached in a long time. You give her a compliment and she turns red in the face. She is just unassuming, but will do whatever this team needs and I absolutely love that.
Since it was Taylor Swift Day, it was only fitting to ask Clark, Coach Bluder, and Taylor McCabe, all of whom were in the post-game presser, to sum up the day’s festivities with a Swift song. None could come up with one on the spot, with Bluder admitting, “You are talking to the wrong person.”
So it goes...
No. 5 Iowa (19-2, 8-1) will hit the road to take on Northwestern (7-12, 2-6) on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. CST.