Opinion | Iowa women’s basketball desperately needs consistency

The Hawkeyes have lost three of their last five games, including two to unranked opponents.

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Grace Smith

Iowa center Monika Czinano drives to the hoop during a women’s basketball game between No. 15 Iowa and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. The Jaguars defeated the Hawkeyes 74-73. Czinano led the team in points with 23.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor


Following a loss to Iowa State on Dec. 8, Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder said the Hawkeyes need consistency.

They still haven’t found it.

The Hawkeyes had a fourth-quarter meltdown on Tuesday as Horizon League opponent Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis erased a 17-point Hawkeye lead to hand Iowa its third loss of the season.

The Jaguars took their first lead of the game with fewer than five seconds remaining, and successfully defended both Hawkeye center Monika Czinano and guard Kate Martin from making a shot in the final seconds to win, 75-74.

IUPUI, a mid-major institution, notched its first-ever win over Iowa in the third meeting between the programs. 

The Jaguars biggest lead was one point. But one point was all they needed.

“Obviously, not the way you wanted to go into the holidays, with a loss,” Bluder said postgame. “We have a 15 point lead going into the fourth quarter, and they just kind of really, really, outplayed us. This team led this contest for three seconds, but they were the most important three seconds.”

It was a lackluster performance, to say the least, from a Hawkeye team that had a preseason No. 9 ranking in the AP Poll. The No. 15 Hawkeyes have now lost two games to unranked teams — Duke on Dec. 2 and IUPUI. Iowa’s third loss came against then-No. 14 Iowa State.

With three losses in its past five games, the Hawkeyes have a steep drop ahead of them in next week’s AP Poll. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Iowa dropped out entirely.

Iowa’s matchup against IUPUI was a “tale of two halves,” head coach Lisa Bluder said.

The Hawkeyes coasted out to a 44-32 lead after 20 minutes of play, holding the Jaguars to just one offensive rebound. Then, the Hawkeyes got complacent.

The Jaguars grabbed eight offensive rebounds in the second half and outscored the Hawkeyes, 27-11, in the fourth quarter. 

“Film never lies, and that’ll show us the areas that we froze up on,” sophomore guard Caitlin Clark said. “I don’t know if we weren’t playing to win almost, I mean, we have a 15 point lead. It seemed almost that we were trying not to lose in a sense… I think we got stagnant on offense.”

Clark finished the game with her fourth double-double of the season — 19 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore scored her 997th career point as a Hawkeye with a minute remaining in the third quarter, but failed to score throughout the final 10 minutes of the game.

As a whole, the Hawkeyes converted on just four of 22 attempts from the 3-point line — a whopping 18.2 percent beyond the arc. It was an uninspired performance from a self-proclaimed 3-point shooting team against a mid-major opponent.

“We’re not shooting the three well, and I can’t explain it,” Bluder said. “I watch film and I see, ‘Ah, maybe we have three or four bad ones,’ but for the most part, they’re pretty good. They’re threes that we make in practice. So, it’s frustrating because I don’t want it to get to them mentally. We are a good 3-shooting team, we’re just not showing it this year. And I have to believe that we’re going to get back there. I just, I have to.”

The Hawkeyes will have a nine-day break before traveling to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State on Dec. 30. Tipoff will be at 2 p.m. and the game will be aired on Big Ten Network.

Iowa will break for the holidays and resume team activities on Dec. 26 with just four days to prepare for Penn State.

“It’ll be interesting how they come back from break,” Bluder said. “I’m hoping that we’ll come back ready to go and ready to start kind of fresh, but it’ll really depend on how they come back on the 26th.”

Iowa has the lofty goal of reaching the Final Four in Minneapolis this season. At 6-3, the Hawkeyes have ample time to rebound from the worst loss of the season so far.

The Final Four goal is still achievable, but the Hawkeyes need to find consistency — sooner rather than later.

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