How a late-season loss to Maryland sparked Iowa women’s basketball’s postseason run

The Hawkeyes were decimated by the Terrapins in the penultimate game of the regular season. Since then, the Hawkeyes haven’t lost a game.


Madyson Gomez

Iowa guard Gabbie Marshall jukes out Maryland guard Abby Meyers during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Maryland at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, February 2, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 96-82.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

SEATTLE — Going into the final week of the regular season, Iowa women’s basketball was in a good position.

Iowa was tied with Indiana for first place in the Big Ten standings and two games away from becoming conference regular season co-champions for the second straight season.

Then, Maryland crashed the party.

The Hawkeyes suffered a 28-point, 96-68 loss to the Terrapins in College Park, Maryland, on Feb. 21, dashing Iowa’s hopes of a regular season championship.

“It was honestly embarrassing what happened to us at Maryland, and we all knew,” senior center Monika Czinano said on Thursday. “When you get 30-pieced on the road, it’s not fun.”

But that loss sparked the Hawkeyes.

“It sure gave us a focus,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It just felt so bad that we didn’t want to feel that way again for a long, long time, hopefully. It was more just — putting the old cliche, the nose to the grindstone. But it really was. It brought us a little bit closer together.”

Since then, the Hawkeyes haven’t lost a game.

First, Iowa shocked Indiana, 86-85, in the regular season finale to secure the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hawkeyes won their way through the conference tournament, taking down Purdue, Maryland, and Ohio State — all NCAA Tournament teams — to clinch their second straight tournament championship. 

After securing a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Iowa took down Southeastern Louisiana and Georgia on its way to Seattle for the Sweet 16.

“We understood a lot of people are going to go back and watch that film and have a blueprint of how to beat Iowa,” junior guard Caitlin Clark said. “We knew we needed to change some things to be able to not let teams guard us like that.”

And part of the Hawkeyes’ recent dominance has come down to their supporting cast. Guard Gabbie Marshall, who had shooting struggles early in the season, has gotten hot from beyond the arc when the Hawkeyes needed her most. 

Marshall has shot 58 percent from 3-point range in her last 10 games — including 7-of-13 against Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament on March 4 and 5-of-8 against Georgia on March 19. Marshall’s seven 3-point makes against Maryland tied a career high.

“People are going to focus on Monika and Caitlin, as they should, and I think, really, it’s harder for teams to guard us when we have bigger roles, and we know that,” Marshall I think especially after that game at Maryland, we knew that we had to step up and we had to knock down shots. They were focusing on Monika and Caitlin, and the supporting cast had to step up.”

Iowa will take on Colorado on Friday for a berth into the Elite Eight. The Hawkeyes were last in the Elite Eight in 2019 — only Czinano and senior Kate Martin were on the Iowa squad then.

But the Hawkeyes aren’t hoping for an Elite Eight berth. They want to get to Dallas for their first Final Four appearance in 30 years.

“I’m just focused on getting my team to Dallas,” Clark said.