Iowa women’s basketball faces quick turnaround to play Penn State

The Hawkeyes only had one day to prep and travel to State College, Pennsylvania, to play the Nittany Lions on Tuesday.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder debates with an official during a women’s basketball game between No. 25 Iowa and Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 82-56.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder had to manage her players’ minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Counting Sunday’s contest, No. 23 Iowa women’s basketball is slated to play three games in six days. So, Bluder wanted to make sure none of her starters played over 30 minutes in the Hawkeyes’ 82-56 win over the Fighting Illini at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“For us to not have to play anybody over 30 minutes was really important because we’re going to be on the road tomorrow,” Bluder said after the Hawkeyes’ game Sunday. “We have one prep day for Penn State, get on the road, travel tomorrow. It’s a lot, so we were really trying to manage minutes today.”

Sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark played longer than all of her teammates on Sunday, clocking 29 minutes and 13 seconds on the hardwood.

Clark notched 18 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists on her way to her fourth consecutive Big Ten Player of the Week honor.

After averaging 26.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and nine assists in two games against Minnesota and Illinois, the conference dubbed Clark player of the week on Monday. Overall, Clark has accumulated 28 weekly honors from the Big Ten in 46 games as a Hawkeye, as well as the conference Freshman of the Year award in 2020-21.

RELATED: Iowa women’s basketball adapts to schedule changes

Now, Clark and the Hawkeyes will travel to the east coast for a rescheduled game against Penn State.

The Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes were supposed to square off on Dec. 30 in State College, Pennsylvania, but COVID-19 cases in the Penn State program prevented it from fielding a full team at the time.

Iowa’s Sunday game against Illinois was also a rescheduled game, as the Hawkeyes and Illini were originally supposed to play on Jan. 2. COVID-19 cases from the Illinois program also prevented the Illini from making the trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in early January.

Overall, the Hawkeyes have had six games postponed or canceled because of COVID-19. Three of Iowa’s nonconference games — Drake, USC, and Seton Hall — were canceled in November because of COVID-19 issues in the Hawkeye program. Those games will not be rescheduled.

While the Hawkeyes had long breaks between games in November and December, their makeup contests are condensing the last two months of the schedule.

“I think it is important to keep that consistency going,” Bluder said. “And, you know, we need to make up games … It’s not going to be the ideal situation ever when we make up games. I mean, it’s never going to be the best situation where we’re going to Penn State on a one-day prep. That’s not ideal. But if we want to get the game in, we’re going to have to do some of those types of things.”

The Hawkeyes have rescheduled two of their three postponed Big Ten games so far. Iowa is still looking for a new date for its contest against Indiana, originally scheduled for Jan. 23 in Iowa City. The Hoosiers had to postpone the game because of COVID-19.

For now, the Hawkeyes will take on Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.

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