Twice as nice: Caitlin Clark leads Iowa women’s basketball to back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles

The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year posted the third triple-double in conference tournament history to push Iowa over Ohio State.


Matt Sindt

Iowa women’s basketball players celebrate after winning the Big Ten Tournament title at the Target Center in Minneapolis on March 5. Second-seeded Iowa defeated third-seeded Ohio State, 105-72.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

MINNEAPOLIS — Caitlin Clark thinks her Bruce Lee Kobe shoes, which are black and gold, bring good vibes.

And those good vibes were evident in Iowa women’s basketball’s mauling of Ohio State, 105-72, on Sunday to become Big Ten Tournament champions for the second straight season. The Hawkeyes’ 105 points is the highest number of points in a Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, and the 33-point difference is the largest margin of victory.

“To win back-to-back championships is so hard to do in this league,” head coach Lisa Bluder said.”This is an amazing league, with great coaches, great players. I just feel really, really thankful that we have this opportunity today to win this again.”

Clark, who registered 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 17 assists, became the first player in Big Ten history to post a triple-double in the conference championship game. She’s just the third player to record a triple-double in tournament history.

“Seventeen assists on two turnovers, I don’t know how you can say that she’s not the player of the year in this country,” Bluder said. “I just don’t know how you can say that.”

Iowa fans erupted in cheers as Clark brought down her 10th rebound — the last thing she needed for a triple-double — with just over five minutes left in the game.

The tournament-record 9,505 fans, most of whom were clad in Black and Gold, gave Clark a standing ovation as she grinned, running the ball back down the court.

“I knew I needed one more, coach Bluder told me right before,” Clark said.  “It was a really long rebound, so I had to turn the jets on to get it … it was a fun moment with the arena, I was laughing a little bit.

“I think our fans have been incredible in our three games here,” Clark added. “ I don’t know if we’d do it without them. It’s literally home-court advantage, chanting ‘Let’s go Hawks’ with 45 minutes left in warmups. I mean, that’s probably pretty intimidating if you’re the other team, so a lot of credit goes to them.”

Clark also became the Big Ten Tournament MVP for the second straight season. Clark, fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano, and senior guard Gabbie Marshall were named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team. 

The Hawkeyes dominated the Buckeyes from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

The second-seeded Hawkeyes put on an offensive clinic from the jump, shooting 72.4 percent from the field in the first half and outscoring the fourth-seeded Buckeyes, 61-24. Iowa’s 61 points is a program record for points in a half.

Clark nearly outscored the Buckeyes herself in the first half, putting up 23 points. Fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano was firmly in double figures at the half, as well, putting up 17 points.

“I think we were getting a lot of stops, and our defense was really moving,” senior Kate Martin said. “We were communicating a lot. And then when we got stops, we got to push and transition a lot, and we were moving hard, cutting hard on the offensive end and getting the ball inside.”

Ohio State attempted to mount a comeback in the second half, going on an 11-4 run to start the third quarter. The Buckeyes also started their infamous full-court press — which was top-seeded Indiana’s downfall in the semifinals — to limit the Hawkeyes’ scoring.

Ohio State outscored Iowa, 30-20, in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes needed a miracle to catch up to the Hawkeyes — something they couldn’t get.

Iowa eclipsed 100 points on a 3-pointer from Marshall with just under five minutes left in the game. The scoreboard at the Target Center, which seemingly wasn’t prepared for Iowa’s offensive onslaught, started to cut off the third number.

Iowa emptied its bench on the way to becoming conference champions, with some players getting in the game for the first time in the tournament.

“A lot of times it can’t happen, or it doesn’t happen, right?” Bluder said. “I mean, usually they’re nail-biters or it’s down to the last few seconds. So, it felt good to have a lead like this and be able to coast into the end and be able to have everybody out there.”

With the win, the Hawkeyes automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will host the first two rounds of the tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a projected No. 1 or No. 2 seed.