Clark recovers from slow start in first postseason game

The Big Ten Freshman of the Year finished Wednesday’s game with 27 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.


Kate Heston

Iowa Guard Caitlin Clark (22) goes up for a layup during a second round game of the Big 10 women’s basketball tournament. Iowa, ranked #6, took on #11 Purdue in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers, 83-72, advancing the Hawks to take on Rutgers Thursday night in the Big 10 quarterfinals.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

For most of the 2020-21 season, Iowa women’s basketball freshman point guard Caitlin Clark has been a force to be reckoned with, as she leads the nation in scoring with a 27.4 points per game average.

In the opening quarter of Iowa’s 83-72 win over 11th-seeded Purdue in the second round of the 2021 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, Clark was uncharacteristically cold from the field.

The Big Ten Freshman of the Year missed her first six shots Wednesday night before she finally snapped the cold spell with a 3-point buzzer beater at the end of the first period.

While her shots weren’t falling, Clark found other ways to contribute in the first quarter, putting up two assists and two rebounds in the game’s opening 10 minutes.

During the second quarter, Clark began to heat up, scoring eight of the Hawkeyes’ 20 points in period two. Clark scored all eight of her second-period points without hitting a 3-pointer, and four of those eight points came from the foul line.

“I mean, kid’s a great shooter,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “First time playing in a big tournament like this. The thing is that she got herself going by doing other things, not just taking the step-back threes. She got herself going by getting to the rim and getting assists. And so that’s what a great player does is, [when] their normal game’s not working for them, they just find another way to contribute.”

While Clark struggled early, junior center Monika Czinano excelled, hitting her first five shot attempts in the first quarter. On the night, Czinano scored a career-high 38 points.

Despite Clark’s early struggles, Czinano was confident that Clark would begin to contribute in the scoring column at some point during Wednesday’s game.

“I have so much confidence in her,” Czinano said. “Even when she does have a slow start, she’s going to participate and get into games in different ways. I know that it’s not going to last, not at all. She’ll be back soon, not that she was gone. She does a really good job of kind of recognizing on when one thing isn’t working and be able to adapt and change her game and that makes her a really good player.”

Clark finished Wednesday’s game with 27 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.

According to Czinano, Clark’s solid second half helped open up more scoring opportunities for Iowa’s players in the post — particularly Czinano.

“Offensively, when she gets going, they definitely can’t send two people into the paint or choke it or anything, they really have to respect the perimeter,” Czinano said. “Yeah, I think that’s a huge thing. It really opens me up to kind of do some work on the block.”

Clark and the Hawkeyes will face Rutgers Thursday at approximately 8 p.m. in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The game will air on FS2.

The last time the Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights met, Clark dropped 28 points in a 90-84 Iowa win on Dec. 31.

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