Final Four bound: Iowa women’s basketball takes down Louisville in Elite Eight, breaks 30-year drought

With a 97-83 win over Louisville on Sunday night, Iowa will head to the Final Four for the first time since 1993.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark shoots a three-point shot during a 2023 NCAA Elite Eight women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 5 Louisville at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA on Sunday, March 25, 2023.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

SEATTLE — For the first time in 30 years, the Hawkeyes are heading to the Final Four. Iowa took down Louisville, 97-83, in the Elite Eight on Sunday night for the program’s first Final Four berth since 1993.

“I don’t know if it’s kind of really sunk in yet,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But this group is amazing, and just to do the thing you love with the people that you love, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s exactly how this team is. I mean, everybody talks about being a family. This is a true family. We have each other’s backs through highs and lows and we’re just very thankful that we get to represent the great state of Iowa in the Final Four.”

Louisville got off to a hot start, scoring the first eight points of the game. But Iowa recovered and gained the lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

After that, the Hawkeyes never looked back.

“I just think we are such a veteran team that everyone just kind of knew we had to stay true to ourselves and just be ourselves in that moment,” senior forward McKenna Warnock said. “You could falter, I mean, that could have blown up a lot worse than it did. And I’m really proud of this group and we really just focused on our defense one step at a time and we knew that our defense leads to our offense.”

Iowa didn’t relinquish its lead for the rest of the game. Instead, the Hawkeyes slowly extended their lead throughout the rest of the contest, building up to a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter — aided by a 30-point third-quarter clip.

“It really felt like it was flowing right there,” fifth-year senior Monika Czinano said of the third-quarter run. “And it honestly just really felt like we finally really clicked, playing Iowa basketball like we knew we could. It just really felt like everything was flowing.”

The Cardinals attempted to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, going on a 13-1 run while the Hawkeyes went on a eight-minute field-goal drought.

Clark notches historic triple-double

Hawkeye junior guard Caitlin Clark scored or assisted on all 25 of Iowa’s points in the first quarter, notching 15 points and four assists.

She didn’t slow down, notching the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament’s first 30-point triple-double. Clark finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists.

“She is spectacular,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court. A 40-point triple double against Louisville to go to the Final Four? Are you kidding? I mean, it’s mind-boggling. So, I’m just thankful for her.”

Hawkeyes hot from 3-point range

Iowa took the majority of its shots from 3-point range on Sunday night.

The Hawkeyes went 16-of-35 from 3-point range against the Cardinals, led by Clark’s 8-of-14. Overall, Iowa shot 29-of-54 from the field.

Three Hawkeyes make all-regional team

Clark, Czinano, and Warnock made the Seattle 4 all-regional team, announced after the Hawkeyes hoisted the trophy.

Clark was named the most outstanding player of the region.

Up next

The Hawkeyes will head to Dallas, Texas, as one of the final four women’s basketball teams in the nation. Iowa will play the winner of top overall seed South Carolina and second-seeded Maryland, which will tip off at 6 p.m. on Monday night from Greenville, South Carolina.