Defensive inconsistencies doom Iowa women’s basketball in Bloomington

The Hawkeyes fell to No. 10 Indiana, 89-80, after blowing a five-point halftime lead.


Casey Stone

Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder fist bumps her team during a timeout at the Iowa Women’s Basketball game against Northwestern on Jan. 28, 2021 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Northwestern defeated Iowa 87-80

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Ahead of Iowa women’s basketball’s matchup with No. 10 Indiana Wednesday afternoon, Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder stressed that her team needed to resolve the defensive inconsistencies that have plagued it throughout the season.

Coming into their road tilt with the Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes ranked last in nation — 336th out of 336 teams — in scoring defense, per the NCAA. Iowa also sat at 306th in field goal percentage defense as of Tuesday.

“I need to see consistence of defense,” Bluder said at a Tuesday news conference. “We’ve been very inconsistent in that area, and we’ve been bad at times.”

In Iowa’s 89-80 loss to Indiana in Bloomington Wednesday, Bluder’s team did not piece together the consistent defensive performance Bluder had hoped for.

“We showed great defense and we were with them [in the first half],” junior center Monika Czinano said postgame. “But in the second half, definitely, we let up on our defense and we let up on our rebounding, and you can see that definitely leads to losing a game.”

At halftime, Iowa led Indiana, 43-38. Then, the Hoosiers went on a 10-2 run to start the second half and didn’t look back, procuring a six-point lead at the end of the third quarter.

After that, Iowa trailed by at least two scores for the remainder of the game.

With the loss, the Hawkeyes fell to 14-8 on the season and 10-8 in the Big Ten. Iowa will finish the regular season with just one win over a ranked team — No. 12 Michigan Feb. 25 — as the last opponent the Hawkeyes will face before the postseason begins is unranked Nebraska.

“I think every aspect we needed to rev up a little bit,” Czinano said. “Definitely, probably offensive rebounding. [Indiana] got too many offensive boards.”

Like defensive inefficiencies, offensive rebounding has been an underlying problem for the Hawkeyes in 2020-21 too.

On Wednesday, the Hoosiers grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and surrendered just six to Iowa. In total, the Hawkeyes were outrebounded by Indiana, 38-21.

“We gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” Bluder said. “I mean, they have seventeen more shots than we do because of rebounds alone. Getting to the free-throw line, they get to the line 23 times to our 12 times. It is hard to win games, even when you shoot as well as we shot from all three areas, when you give them seventeen extra shots on the boards and [have] 11 less free throws. It is hard to win on the road with those types of numbers, or anywhere.”

Offensively, the Hawkeyes lived up to their billing as one of the nation’s best scoring teams, shooting 51.7 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from 3-point range, and 83.3 percent from the charity stripe.

Prior to their matchup with the Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes were ranked second in the nation in scoring offense, according to the NCAA.

Freshman point guard Caitlin Clark has been the engine that has driven Iowa’s offense throughout the 2020-21 campaign. On Wednesday night, she registered her tenth 30-point game — pouring in 32 points before fouling out with 2:50 remaining in the contest.

Czinano was the only Hawkeye to join Clark in the double-digit scoring column in Bloomington, recording 20 points and six rebounds.

Iowa’s season finale is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes’ matchup with the Cornhuskers will stream on BTN+.

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