Rapid Recap: First half dominance leads Iowa to win over Kentucky, spot in Sweet 16

Fifth-seeded Iowa defeated No. 4 Kentucky, 86-72, to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa center Monika Czinano shoots a basket during the first half of the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball championship against Kentucky on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the Bill Greehey Arena at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. The Hawkeyes are leading the Wildcats, 49-22 at halftime.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

SAN ANTONIO – Behind “Defense!” chants from the Iowa fans at the game, Iowa held Kentucky to just 72 points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to overtake the Wildcats, 86-72.

The Hawkeyes will advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio to play the winner of No. 1 UConn/No. 8 Syracuse this weekend.

Iowa raced out to a 11-0 lead, and led 11-2 after the first five minutes of the game. After the Hawkeyes brought the score to 13-2, they never held a lead less than 10 points for the rest of the matchup.

Kentucky missed its first eight shots of the game as Iowa went on a 7-0 run, forcing a Wildcat timeout. The Hawkeyes completed an 11-0 run through the first five minutes of the game, until Kentucky converted a layup on its ninth shot attempt.

Iowa’s usual struggling defense, ranked 336th out of 336 Division I Women’s Basketball teams before Tuesday’s game, came to life in Bill Greehey Arena, holding Kentucky to just 22 points in the first half.

At halftime, Iowa led, 49-22.

After Kentucky implemented a full court press, Iowa ran into some trouble in the third quarter, allowing a Kentucky an 11-0 run to cut its lead to 55-39.

Iowa ended the almost four minute scoring drought with a McKenna Warnock 3-point shot, bringing the score to 58-39.

At the end of the third quarter, Iowa led, 70-46. Kentucky outscored Iowa in the 10 minutes, 24-21, but it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats to bring themselves within single-digits.

Halfway through the fourth quarter, junior Monika Czinano picked up her fourth foul, and freshman center Sharon Goodman subbed in to take her place.

Goodman received a pass in the paint from McKenna Warnock and converted the layup to make the score 79-57.

With a minute left in the fourth quarter, seniors Alexis Sevillian and Zion Sanders entered the game in place of Warnock and Clark. Junior Logan Cook, sophomore Megan Meyer, and freshman Shateah Wetering also finished the game for Iowa.

Wetering scored her first points of the postseason on two free throws, bringing the final score to 86-72.

Clark outscores Kentucky in first half

After ten minutes, Caitlin Clark had 11 points, and all of the Wildcats had a combined 11 points. At halftime, the Wildcats held 22 points, and Caitlin Clark — on two end-of-half free throws — eclipsed 24 points in the first 20 minutes.

The freshman point guard ended the night with 35 points, seven rebounds, and six assists on 13-of-21 shooting.

Her 35 points break an Iowa NCAA Tournament record.

Czinano was the only other Hawkeye in double-digit scoring, tallying 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, along with eight rebounds.

Iowa struggles on offensive boards

Despite the 14 point win, Iowa was heavily outrebounded on the offensive glass. Kentucky grabbed 22 offensive rebounds compared to Iowa’s nine.

Overall, Iowa had 37 rebounds, compared to the Wildcats’ 38.

Sweet 16-bound

Iowa will be going to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive Tournament, as the 2019 Hawkeyes made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The 2020 Tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa will take on the winner of No. 1 UConn/No. 8 Syracuse, which will be played at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday.

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