Scouting report | Iowa women’s basketball prepares for physical Kentucky team

Iowa will take on Kentucky on Tuesday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa guard Kate Martin and Central Michigan guard Molly Davis fall while fighting for the ball during the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball championship between Iowa and Central Michigan on Sunday, March 21, 2021 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. The Hawkeyes defeated the Chippewas, 87-72. No. 5 Iowa will go on to play No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday during the second round.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

SAN ANTONIO — Iowa women’s basketball advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after taking down 12th-seeded Central Michigan, 87-72, Sunday at the Alamodome.

Now, the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes will take on No. 4 seed Kentucky in the Round of 32 Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena at the University of St. Mary’s campus. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

With only one day to prep the matchup, Iowa is comparing Kentucky to a team they’ve seen multiple times this season: Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are known for their physicality, and the Hawkeyes are preparing for another physical game against Kentucky.

“We’re always prepared for that, thank goodness,” sophomore guard Kate Martin said. “We play in the Big Ten, we always play against physical teams, so I think we’re ready for that.”

Iowa defeated Rutgers twice during the 2020-21 regular season. Once on Dec. 31, 90-84, and again in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, 73-62.

“We did defeat Rutgers twice,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But we feel like that’s kind of the attitude that you have to come in here, the mindset you have to come in here, knowing that kind of pressure is coming at you, knowing that press is coming at you, and knowing that you have to box out … They’re two really good teams, and I think it does help that we defeated Rutgers.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s matchup, Iowa and Kentucky have only met on one other occasions. During the 1991-92 season, the Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats, 77-68.

This time around, the matchup will pit two dynamic duos against each other, as Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano square off against Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Chasity Patterson.

Howard has been the SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons. She also won the SEC Freshman of the Year award in 2018-19. The 6-foot-2 guard averages 20.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Patterson is the second-leading scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 12.3 points per game.

“They’re kind of like us,” Bluder said. “Everybody knows about the two. But when you add in that third person, whether it’s [Keke] McKinney or [Jazmine] Massengill … when one of those is having a spectacular night, they’re hard to guard.”

The Hawkeyes have yet to run into any offensive problems of their own this season, as they average 86.6 points per game as a team — good for second in all of NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball.

Iowa does, however, have its share of defensive problems as the Hawkeyes rank 336th out of 336 teams in nation in scoring defense.

Kentucky stands in the middle of the pack in defensive scoring at 179th, allowing 65.7 points per game on average.

The Wildcats are ranked 49th in the nation offensively, dropping 73.5 points per game.

[Kentucky is] a really good team,” sophomore guard Kate Martin said. “… The key is just going to be able to slow them down, and the better defensive team tomorrow will win. So, I think our mission is just to play really good defense, move really hard, and we’ll do what we want on offense.”

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