The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Column | Despite poor shooting performance against Virginia Tech, Iowa women’s basketball looks poised for another big season

The Hawkeyes showed they are once again title contenders on Thursday night.
Grace Smith
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark runs down the court to play defense during the Ally Tipoff, a basketball game between No. 3 Iowa and No. 8 Virginia Tech at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. Clark played all 40 minutes of the game. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hokies, 80-76.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Iowa women’s basketball team is picking up right where it left off last season.

After beating No. 8 Virginia Tech, 80-76, in the Ally Tipoff on Thursday, the Hawkeyes made a statement that they are title contenders once again. Reigning national player of the year Caitlin Clark ended the night with 44 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

“I told my girls, ‘Sometimes you’re playing checkers, and [Caitlin’s] playing chess,’” Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said in the post game press conference. “She’s that good.”

Iowa is also on a better track versus ranked teams ​​this season than last year, as the Hawkeyes lost to No. 3 UConn and No.12 North Carolina State during their first two ranked matchups of the year and finished 5-4 versus ranked competition on the season.

It wasn’t all perfect. though, for head coach Lisa Bluder’s squad.  The Hawkeye offense was uncharacteristically poor in the first half, shooting just above 33 percent from the field and going 1-for-15 from beyond the arc.  

Iowa faced further adversity during its matchup with Virginia Tech, as starters Kate Martin, Molly Davis, and Hannah Stuelke each got into foul trouble early on.

But as good teams and players do, they adjusted in the second half, boosting their field goal percentage to 51 percent while going 5-for-11 on three-point attempts. In comparison, during last season’s run to the national championship, Iowa led the entire NCAA in positive field goal percentage and points per game with 51 percent.

Iowa getting in foul trouble also made way for some impressive performances by backups Kylie Feuerbach and Sydney Affolter, who scored 8 points and grabbed 14 rebounds off the bench, respectively.

Moving forward, Bluder said she and the coaching staff will have to figure out the offense so Clark isn’t bearing the scoring burden. 

“Obviously [Caitlin] scored a lot of points for us tonight, but I thought there was so many key people that came in and did things that really helped her,” Bluder said. 

Iowa found success with a strong bench last season, with Stuelke and Davis making the most of their playing time, and that will need to continue if Iowa wants to compete with the likes of No.1 LSU and No. 2 UConn.

Despite being overmatched at times  guarding two-time ACC player of the year Elizabeth Kitley and fouling out in the fourth quarter, Stuelke was second for Iowa with 12 points, with many coming off a pick-and-roll screen from the top of the key.

If Iowa wants to be successful this season, they have to find a reliable number two option to take some of the load off of Clark in the scoring department. And if Stuelke can play like she did Thursday, the Hawkeyes might be on the verge of another Law Firm 2.0. 

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.