No. 2 seed Iowa women’s basketball crushes No. 15 seed Southeastern Louisiana in NCAA Tournament first round

The Hawkeyes shot 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range on their way to a 95-43 victory.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark runs the ball down the court during a 2023 NCAA First Round women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 16 Southeastern Louisiana in sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, March 16, 2023.

Colin Votzmeyer, Sports Reporter

Second-seeded Iowa blew out 15th-seeded Southeastern Louisiana, 95-43, in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday.

Iowa City hosted a slate of first-round games for the tournament in the Seattle region, and the Hawkeyes took advantage of the sold-out home court advantage.

The Lions’ defensive game plan was to press junior guard Caitlin Clark in the full court and face-guard her in the half — but to no avail. Clark shot 9-for-14 from the field, 3-for-6 from three, and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line in the game for a total of 26 points — 19 coming in the first half alone.

She added 12 assists and seven rebounds for a double-double. The team combined for 27 assists on 16 turnovers.

“I thought we did a really good job of [getting assists],” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Any time you’re having 27 assists, that’s pretty good.”

Fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano made the paint her stronghold, scoring 20 of Iowa’s 54 points in the paint. Freshman center Hannah Stuelke followed Czinano’s lead off the bench for 13 points on 5-for-5 from the field and 3-for-6 from the charity stripe.

“I think Hannah Stuelke played an incredible game today,” Clark said. “When we have her playing like that and she can come off of the bench, it just gives us a whole other weapon that people have to scheme for.”

Pushing the pace

Senior guard Gabbie Marshall is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range this season and opened the game just that way: with a three in the left corner.

But it was Clark who set the tone early, often breaking the press quickly to score 12 and assist three times in the first quarter alone. She shot 4-for-6 from the field, 2-for-3 from deep, and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line in the first. The Hawkeyes led, 28-17, going into the second.

Clark notched her double-double with her 10th assist with a minute left in the third quarter, and the Lions’ face-guarding game plan quickly turned into fouls.

“They were physical … they’re a scrappy team; they were picking up full court man-to-man,” Clark said, “but I really don’t know what there is out there that you can do to us that we really haven’t seen. We’re going to be ready for whatever people throw at us.”

By the end of the contest, every available Hawkeye got into the game and 11 scored.

“I thought people off the bench played really well,” Clark said. “It’s really fun to see [the bench players] have their moment as well … Us five starters, we get the bulk of the minutes, but those kids still come to practice every single day and work super hard.”

Concerns on the glass

Iowa struggled to rebound defensively in the third, reflected in the Lions’ 14 offensive rebounds in the game. The Lions used this to extend their possessions, but they weren’t able to convert on the advantage, scoring just three second-chance points.

Iowa outrebounded Southeastern Louisiana, 45-31, but the Lions had a 14-9 advantage on the offensive glass. And the Hawkeyes know they’ll have to step up their rebounding game on Sunday.

“They have got some really good rebounders on the Georgia team, so we have got to make contact and box out because they are exceptional offensive rebounders,” Bluder said. “I think that’s one of their keys. Definitely rebounds are going to be a factor in the next game.”

Up next

The Hawkeyes will square up against the 10th-seeded Georgia Bulldogs at 2 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday in the second round. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 in Seattle next weekend. 

Georgia upset seventh-seeded Florida State, 66-54, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday.

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