Iowa women’s basketball squeezes past Colorado, advances to Elite Eight of NCAA Tournament

The Hawkeyes took down the Buffaloes, 87-77, at Climate Pledge Arena on Friday night.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark shoots a jump shot during the 2023 NCAA Sweet Sixteen women’s basketball game between No.2 Iowa and No.6 Colorado at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA on Friday, March 24, 2023. The Buffalos leads The Hawkeyes, 40-39.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

SEATTLE — Iowa women’s basketball eked by Colorado, 87-77, in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena. The Hawkeyes will advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2019.

“The reality that I get to go practice tomorrow with my team, and to have these experiences is so fun, and it’s what I love to do, it’s what we all love to do,” fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano said. “Any time we can be together is phenomenal. So, I’m so excited to go to practice tomorrow.”

The Hawkeyes and Buffaloes were evenly matched throughout the first quarter, and Iowa came out of the opening frame with a one-point lead, 23-22.

Colorado bounced back in the second quarter, however, flipping the script to lead the Hawkeyes by one, 40-39, after 20 minutes. The Buffaloes outrebounded the Hawkeyes, 12-4, on the offensive glass in the first half.

“I think we just knew we had to do better on the boards,” fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano said. “They were getting multiple possessions every time they came down the floor. And I mean, anytime you give up that many o-boards, teams are going to be able to kind of go on a run. So just changing our mindset, and we knew we could do it.”

In the third quarter, the Hawkeyes opened up the game. Iowa went on a 13-0 run throughout the third, outscoring Colorado 25-13 in the quarter and taking a 64-53 lead into the final 10 minutes.

Colorado kept the fourth quarter interesting for Iowa, outscoring the Hawkeyes, 24-23. But the Buffaloes couldn’t overcome the Hawkeyes’ third-quarter lead.

Hawkeye junior guard Caitlin Clark finished the game with 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting, leading all scorers.

Hawkeyes fight through foul trouble

Clark picked up two fouls in the first quarter, resulting in her sitting for the first four minutes of the second frame.

Czinano picked up her fourth foul with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, sending her to the bench for the majority of the fourth. She checked back into the game with just under four minutes remaining in the final quarter, and finished the contest with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Sophomore Addy O’Grady filled Czinano’s absence, getting 11 minutes on the court.

“It was awful,” Czinano said of getting into foul trouble. “But  I’m really proud of how Addy came in to play today. She did a great job. Her size is such a weapon. Their post players were playing us really physical, they are great post players. She did a phenomenal job, and I’m really happy that she got in and got those minutes to build some confidence.”

Stuelke limited in return from injury

Freshman Hannah Stuelke missed Iowa’s second-round game against Georgia with an ankle sprain, but she returned for the Hawkeyes on Friday night.

She was limited, however, only playing two minutes in her return to action, recording no points and two turnovers.

“It wasn’t with her ankle,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It was really more of a situation where I thought she was getting buried in the post position. I thought [Colorado] did a really good job. … But she’s more of a finesse 4 and 5 than like a Monika Czinano type of 4 and 5. And that’s why I went with Addy. With a little more height, a little more girth.”

Formann fuels Buffaloes

Colorado’s Frida Formann had 14 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers.

“We were contesting her pretty good in the first half,” Clark said. “She got loose a couple of times. And, you know, she wasn’t gonna you keep hitting it the way she was.”

Formann picked up her fourth foul in the final three minutes of the third quarter, however, slowing her scoring. She fouled out of the game with over six minutes left in the fourth, finishing with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range.

Up next

Iowa will play the winner of No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 5 Louisville in the Elite Eight on Sunday at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. The time and TV designation are yet to be determined.

The Hawkeyes will be playing for their first Final Four berth in 30 years. Iowa hasn’t made the Final Four since the 1993 season under C. Vivian Stringer.

“There’s 40 minutes between us and Dallas,” Clark said. “So, we’ve got to lock in.”

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