Iowa women’s basketball clicks in the second half to overcome early deficit over Penn State

Four Hawkeyes hit double-digit scoring in a big win over the Lady Lions


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s Monika Czinano gets behind the Penn State defense and scores during a women’s basketball game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lion’s at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball has often found itself the victim of slow starts this season, which has at times been too much to overcome. But against Penn State, it was truly a tale of two halves.

Penn State immediately raced out to an early 11-2 lead as the Lady Lions overwhelmed the Hawkeyes on the glass. After a shellshocked Iowa temporarily closed the gap, Penn State continued to shoot its way ahead. 

The Lady Lions attempted 49 field goals in the first half, mainly because of Penn State securing an incredible 32 rebounds.  The 17 offensive rebounds is the most Iowa has given up all season, a testament to how much energy Penn State opened the game with. 

“I definitely think we got kicked in the butt a little the first half,” junior center Monika Czinano said. “We’re normally pretty good at rebounding, like this was out of characteristic for us, but I’m glad we could regroup.”

The Hawkeyes escaped the first half only down 11 and with a lot of things to figure out. 

For a relatively young team, Iowa did not appear rattled after the initial blow as the team stayed confident it could come back. 

“We have a good mentality and we’re fighters,” freshman guard Caitlin Clark said. “I told our team we’ve been here before, maybe that’s not a good thing but we will be able to fight back and be just fine as long as we clean up the things.”

Iowa came out in the second half looking like a completely different team that showed energy and confidence. First came a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Kate Martin, and then a Clark bucket and just like that Iowa had its swagger back.

After a slow first half by her standards, Clark came out and put up 20 points in the second half to score 32 points in the game. This was her fourth consecutive game scoring at least 30 points.

RELATED: Rapid Recap: Iowa women’s basketball posts comeback against Penn State

It ended up being a team effort on offense, with four players hitting 15 points for the Hawkeyes. That includes 15 points from sophomore forward McKenna Warnock, 17 for Czinano and 19 from Martin. With Clark often doing the bulk of the scoring for Iowa, it was crucial that everyone stepped up on offense in what was a fast paced, high scoring affair. 

“It was a special game for Kate Martin,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But four people in double figures. I love that balance,” 

Along with shooting the lights out in the second half, Iowa outrebounded Penn State and committed just four turnovers. 

After focusing on lowering turnovers over the past few weeks, big progress was made Thursday. The team finished with just eight turnovers on the game, huge for a team that normally averages 15.8 turnovers per game. 

“Kate, [senior guard] Alexis [Sevillian] and [senior guard] Zion [Sanders] are holding their teammates accountable in practices for turnovers,” Bluder said. “They’re giving themselves self-imposed penalties and team penalties for turnovers. We get done with a scrimmage, and I see them doing sit-ups on their own.” 

After a change to the schedule, Iowa will now play at Maryland in its next game on Tuesday at noon. The game at Indiana has been moved to March 3.

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