No. 22 Northwestern stifles Iowa women’s basketball in Evanston

The Hawkeyes struggled on both ends of the floor Saturday night, falling to Northwestern, 67-77.


Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan

Monika Czinano, forward and center, (25) goes for a lay-up during women’s basketball against Northwestern in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 3, 2019. Iowa defeated Northwestern 74-50.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s basketball team fell to No. 22 Northwestern, 67-77, on the road on Saturday. With the loss, the Hawkeyes sit at 8-2 on the season and 4-2 in Big Ten play.

Iowa got off to a slow start in the first quarter, but picked up speed in the second, heading into halftime with the score tied at 36.

The Hawkeyes attributed their slow start to a poor first quarter defensive effort, which allowed the Wildcats to shoot 53 percent from the field and commit just two turnovers in the game’s first ten minutes.

“Coming to our defense, I think it needed to start off a little better,” junior center Monika Czinano said. “We started off a little lackadaisical. Sometimes, we weren’t coming all the way to help, allowing them easy drives. But, I think throughout every single quarter, it got better.”

Although their defense improved throughout the game, the Hawkeyes’ offense fell flat against Northwestern’s stifling defense. The Wildcats recorded 10 steals and could seemingly draw fouls at will on the offensive end.

“[Northwestern] would score a basket, and we’d foul them, and they’d get the three-point play, and, to me, that’s the best play in basketball,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “And when it goes against you … it just takes the wind out of your sails a little bit.”

In total, Iowa turned the ball over 18 times in 40 minutes of play. Northwestern capitalized almost every time the Hawkeyes turned the ball over, putting up 28 points off of the 18 Iowa miscues.

Postgame, Bluder credited the Hawkeyes’ high turnover volume to the Wildcats’ aggressive defensive pressure.

Part of Northwestern’s success also stemmed from its ability to slow freshman point guard Caitlin Clark, who was held to a career-low eight points. Clark fouled out of the game with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The lack of offensive production from Clark was sorely missed by the Hawkeyes Saturday, as she is averaging 25.6 points per game on the season. Prior to tipoff on Saturday, Clark’s points per game average was third-best in the nation.

“[Clark’s] shot certainly wasn’t falling tonight, and we needed her to get us into our offense a little bit better,” Bluder said. “I think all the pressure was really what got to her a little bit.”

While Clark struggled, her teammates fought to keep the Hawkeyes in the game. Center Monika Czinano was a lone bright spot for Iowa, leading the team with a career-high 28 points on 13-of-14 shooting from the floor.

“I have so much confidence in [Czinano] shooting the ball, and I’m just disappointed that she didn’t take 20 shots tonight,” Bluder said. “I think she should’ve, I mean, they couldn’t stop her. So, if somebody can’t stop you, you have to keep going back to the same well. We just didn’t do that. We were looking at so many other options tonight, besides just going at the old ‘Why not keep doing it? Why not keep doing the same, boring thing that’s been working over and over again?’”

The Hawkeyes will have a chance to bounce back from Saturday night’s loss next week as they are set to host another ranked team in No. 16 Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Jan. 13. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.

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