Iowa women’s basketball clinches share of Big Ten regular season title, No. 2 seed in conference tournament

No. 21 Iowa women’s basketball secured its first Big Ten regular season title since 2008 with a victory over No. 6 Michigan on Sunday.


Grace Smith

Iowa celebrates its regular season Big Ten Champion title after a women’s basketball game between No. 21 Iowa and No. 6 Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. The Hawkeyes became Big Ten Champions after defeating the Wolverines, 104-80.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball seniors Logan Cook and Tomi Taiwo checked out of the game for the final time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday to raucous cheers from a sold out crowd.

After giving out hugs down the bench, they watched their Hawkeye teammates tie the bow on No. 21 Iowa’s 104-80 victory over No. 6 Michigan.

With the Hawkeyes’ victory on Sunday, Taiwo and Cook not only left Carver-Hawkeye Arena as seniors, but also as Big Ten regular season champions.

Head coach Lisa Bluder, who led the Hawkeyes to their first Big Ten regular season title since 2008, was held nearly speechless postgame, staring at the sellout crowd with a microphone in her hand.

“This is so much more fun than the 2008 championship,” Bluder told the crowd. “When we won, we won on the road. We didn’t have any of you with us. This Big Ten Championship belongs to these women, but it also belongs to you. You fans are the best, we’re so thankful for all of you.”

In 2008, the Hawkeyes didn’t have the chance to cut down their net. In 2022, every Hawkeye got a piece.

Clad in “Big Ten Champions” T-shirts, Iowa’s players clipped off portions of the victory net one-by-one. Bluder was the final person to climb the ladder, swinging the detached net around her fingers.

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder waves a piece of the net during a women’s basketball game between No. 21 Iowa and No. 6 Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. The Hawkeyes became regular season Big Ten co-Champions after defeating the Wolverines, 104-80. (Grace Smith)

“Today, you couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Bluder said in the Hawkeyes’ postgame press conference. “Big Ten Championship, beating the No. 6 team in the country. Having our seniors go out on a high like that, being able to cut down the net as a Big Ten Championship team, I’m almost beyond words.”

Iowa will share the Big Ten regular season title with Ohio State. The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes have identical 14-4 records in conference play.

“I think that we’re not done yet,” junior guard Gabbie Marshall said. “Like, this is obviously something we really wanted, and something that has been on our mind since the first game of the season. And I think that just having this under our belt will make us work harder in Big Tens and NCAAs.”

Iowa’s game against Michigan capped off the Big Ten women’s basketball regular season. Next up for the conference’s 14 teams is the Big Ten Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The tournament starts on Wednesday with two play-in games. 

As the No. 2 seed, the Hawkeyes clinched one of four double-bye spots.The Buckeyes, who hold the season head-to-head victory over the Hawkeyes, clinched the conference’s top seed.

Michigan and Maryland occupy the final two double-bye spots with 13-4 records. Michigan took down Maryland twice in the regular season, giving the Wolverines the No. 3 seed. The Terrapins will be seeded fourth.

Indiana, who once ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, narrowly missed out on a double-bye. The Hoosiers are fifth in the conference with an 11-5 record.

The Hawkeyes will start play on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Iowa will play the winner of tenth-seeded Minnesota and seventh-seeded Northwestern in the quarterfinals.

In 2021, Iowa rallied from the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament to make an appearance in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game. The Hawkeyes lost to top-seeded Maryland, 104-84, missing out on a Big Ten title.

“Obviously, we’re going to enjoy this and celebrate this,” sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark said “But we’re going to get back to work, and why not win two Big Ten titles? I mean, we were in the championship last year in Indianapolis. We played really well there [in 2021], so go back and get a little revenge and bring home another one.”

In ESPN’s latest women’s basketball bracketology on Feb. 25, analyst Charlie Creme put Iowa as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

With a solid showing in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament, the Hawkeyes have a chance to nab a top-four seed in the national tournament to claim home court advantage for the first two rounds.

“I think, obviously, this is when you want to be playing your best basketball,” Clark said. “And we are playing our best basketball. If we can get home court advantage for the NCAA Tournament, that’s huge, and getting to do that will be a lot of fun.”