Sweet Sixteen Bound

Iowa Punches Ticket to Sweet Sixteen With 64-54 Victory Over West Virginia

Iowa City – It was series of lasts on Monday night in Iowa City. A last logo three, a last pregame introduction, and a last game on the home court for five seniors. In the end, it was the last free throws the team will shoot in Carver Hawkeye Arena that made the difference. Iowa won 64-54 in a hard-fought, defensive slugfest. The game had no shortage of recognizable faces in the crowd. George Kittle and his wife, former Iowa women’s basketball player Claire (Till), were in attendance and were great to thunderous applause when they made their way to their seats. Also attendance were NCAA and WNBA great Nancy Lieberman, former Iowa wrestler Alex Marinelli, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Former Hawkeye tight end and current NFLer George Kittle was in attendance with his wife, who was also a former Iowa basketball player

West Virginia plays a full court press defense all game long and then start this game no differently. The early pressure created a run for the Mountaineers right out of the gates. Iowa struggled to settle into their normal offense. West Virginia opened a 5-0 lead before Sydney Affolter hit a layup to close the gap to 5-2 and Caitlin Clark hit a logo three to tie it at five and bring the crowd roaring to life. It was a flurry of defense and fouls on Iowa over the next two minutes. Clark was called for an offensive foul and then Affolter was hit with a blocking foul on a loose ball scramble. The Mountaineers hit two threes in that stretch to extend their lead to six, but the Hawkeyes rallied off of two Hannah Stuelke lay ins and a Clark three ball. By the time we’d reached the under five time out the score was 13-13 and we’d had enough drama to rival a middle school lunch table. Out of the time out Clark drained a trey ball to give Iowa it’s first lead of the game at the three minutes mark. Iowa locked down the West Virginia offense with two Hannah Stuelke blocks and Iowa scored on a Kate Martin jumper from the left elbow and two Affolter free throws to take us to the end of the first quarter with the Hawkeyes leading 20-15.

Caitlin Clark receives instruction from head coach Lisa Bluder

The second frame was much slower paced than that first.  Neither team was able to light up the nets between turnovers and missed shots. Iowa and West Virginia scored a combined 15 points, with WVU closing the gap to two by halftime at 26-24.


After the break Iowa drew first blood when Caitlin Clark made a layup and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but Hannah Stuelke managed to wrangle the rebound to give Iowa another possession which resulted in a Kate Martin lay in. “Hannah was really good on the boards tonight and we needed it”, said Head Coach Lisa Bluder. “That said, The Hawkeyes added three more from a Clark three and another deuce from Sydney Affolter to take a 33-26 lead before West Virginia took a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the third frame. Out of that timeout the Iowa crowd roared to life again. Clark missed a long three but Stuelke came up with another huge rebound, dished it out to Clark who nailed the follow up trey to put the Hawks up ten. But the Mountaineers didn’t fade away. They clawed back to trail 40-38 before Iowa went on an 8-0 run over the final 1:25 of the quarter to retake a ten point lead by the end of the third quarter.

The teams wait to tip off the game in a raucous Carver Hawkeye Arena

The fourth quarter opened with West Virginia going on a run of their own. They took a 10-0 run over the first half of the quarter to tie the score at 48-48. Iowa missed three pointers, free throws, and turned the ball over as the Mountaineers picked up a three ball from Jayla Hemingway before she fouled out, and Kyah Watson. They picked up four more points from Jordan Harrison and Tirzah Moore in the run. Affolter finally broke the streak when she hit two free throws on the first possession out of the timeout. Iowa and West Virginia traded buckets to a 52-52 tie before Affolter made a bucket while being fouled, then drained the free throw to give Iowa a three point lead with two minutes left in the game. This came off another huge Gabbie Marshall block of a three point attempt, reminiscent of her two blocks in the Big Ten finale against Nebraksa. It was foul shots and defensive rebounds that ultimately closed out the game for the Hawks. Hannah Stuelke made three , Clark drained a pair, and Affolter’s freebie helped give Iowa an eight point lead with 34 seconds remaining. Stuelke made another pair of free throws, as did Clark and the Iowa women’s basketball team punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen with a 64-54 win. Iowa made 25-30 free throws, including 5-5 from Sydney Affolter and 12-12 from Clark. Iowa had a player finish with a double doubles, and she wasn’t named Clark. Hannah Stuelke netted 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Iowa Hawkeyes push their record to 30-4 overall and will face Colorado in the round of 16 next Saturday in Albany. Iowa defeated Colorado in last year’s Sweet 16 87-77. Tip off time has yet to be determined.

Kate Martin answers questions after the game
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