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

No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball drops first loss of season to Kansas State, 65-58, amid shooting woes

The Hawkeyes shot a collective 22-of-61 from the field.
Grace Smith
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark gets introduced during a basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and Kansas State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

The No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball team dropped its first game of the season to Kansas State in a return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes entered the contest fresh off of a 94-53 win over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Nov. 12, in which Caitlin Clark notched a triple-double that included 24 points — making her the Iowa program’s all-time leading scorer.

But the Wildcats simply caught the Hawkeyes on an off night this time, the latter shooting a collective 22-of-61 from the field and 2-of-21 from deep for 36 and 10 percent, respectively.

Clark scored 24 points in the night but did not connect with her jumpers as she usually does, making just nine shots out of 32 attempts and hitting only two of her 16 attempted threes.

“[I’m going] to take responsibility for that,” Clark said upon agreeing that the game was “not Iowa basketball.” “I have to get us into our offense a little better [and take] a little better shot selection. [There will be] nights where I don’t shoot the ball very well, and I don’t think I really helped myself in getting to the basket and taking advantage of fouls when we needed to.

“But we can still win games when we don’t shoot the ball well, so there were a lot of other areas that we can also improve on,” Clark added. “We have to find other ways to win.”

Iowa up three for much of the fourth quarter, Kansas State closed the game on a 12-0 run — to which the Black and Gold had no answer.

In yet another starting lineup change from Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder, guard Sydney Affolter earned the nod this time, replacing guard Molly Davis.

Iowa second-year forward Hannah Stuelke started at the five, matching up against the 6-foot-6 post powerhouse in Kansas State center Ayoka Lee.

Lee finished with 22 points in the contest even with strong play from the Iowa bigs on both ends of the floor, establishing her presence in the post and not relinquishing it at the game’s end as the Wildcats increasingly relied on her to lift them to the win.

While Lee tried to assert some dominance in the paint on offense, Stuelke used her speed to her advantage when the Hawkeyes held the ball, sprinting the floor ahead of Lee and setting her own position in the paint on the other end.

Clark was slower to start the game, going 1-of-7 from the field in the first, but Stuelke picked up some of the weight — especially with a turn-around rip-through to the rim that made Lee stumble and earned the Cedar Rapids local an and-one.

The Hawkeyes defended the rim well with a handful of tipped shots and denials of entry passes, Clark even taking a charge to send Lee to the bench early.

But despite making the right passes on good ball movement, Iowa gave five turnovers up in the first, and the Hawkeyes and Wildcats sat tied at 13 going into the second.

“It started off rough for us, and it never felt like we were really able to get our feet back under us and regain full control of the game,” Clark said. “It just seemed like we were a little off-cue in that way and still getting used to playing with one another, but at the same time, those aren’t mistakes we usually make on a day-to-day basis.”

Stuelke has become increasingly confident with the ball in her hands, making a crossover into a drive and a finish through contact before Affolter made a strong finish of her own for an and-one.

Still, the Hawkeyes did not quite get into a shooting groove, making a collective 8-of-19 in the second, including three misses in a single possession. 

Clark finally connected on her first three — and the team’s first — of the game with one minute left in the half, though, and the Hawkeyes entered halftime up, 30-29.

Shooting struggles continue

Clark’s second three came on her signature catch-and-shoot off-balance deep ball, but Kansas State’s Lee often responded as she used her size to find easy layups around the rim — and score six in the third quarter.

While momentum could have slowly moved in favor of Hawkeyes with three-straight Kansas State fouls, the Wildcats pulled away with a 7-0 run before three free throws from Iowa’s Davis and an and-one finish from Clark contributed to the Hawkeyes’ own 7-0 run to respond.

And the game was back to tied, this time at 42 apiece halfway through the third. And still with two minutes remaining.

After her step-back pull-up to put the Hawkeyes up two moving into the fourth, Clark turned to the crowd and pumped her arms — and Iowa fans were loud, on their feet, and primed for an entertaining final leg of the contest.

Affolter came up big early, grabbing an offensive board — she’s averaging almost 10 boards a game this year — to keep the possession alive before a drive and finish over Lee at the rim.

And Davis took over for the Iowa offense for seven points in the quarter, including a smooth crossover into a floater as the shot clock winded down.

“I knew that our outside shots weren’t falling, so I wanted to make an emphasis to get to the rim,” Davis said. “I came in there with an attack mentality to try and draw some fouls and also get to the rim and try and open some other things up as well.”

Still, the Wildcats turned to Lee in the post when their shots did not fall from the outside, in turn keeping the Iowa lead to just three for much of the quarter.

Lee’s 20th point of the game came on a turn-around layup with just over a minute left in the fourth, shrinking the Iowa lead to one and then none as her free throws put Kansas State back on top going into the final stretch.

Clark missed a one-legged pull-up off of the back rim from the right side, allowing Wildcat guard Gabby Gregory to hit a mid-range jumper to extend Kansas State’s lead to three. And a costly turnover as Stuelke tried to find Clark gave the Wildcats a chance to further that lead, but a pair of missed free throws gave the Hawkeyes a second chance to even the game up.

And Clark took a fadeaway corner three with time still on the clock, air-balling and giving Kansas State two big free throws that connected, extended the lead to five and ultimately seven, and handed the Hawkeyes their first loss of the year, 65-58.

Up next

The contest marks the Hawkeyes’ first of two home games this week, the second coming on Sunday as they play host to the in-state rival Drake Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs will be coming off of a week of rest, last playing Iowa State on Nov. 12 — and winning comfortably, 85-73.

“This loss isn’t going to break our season or whatever; it’s just going to teach us a lot of things we can get better at, and that’s exciting,” Clark said. “We get to come back to work and play a really, really good Drake team on Sunday.”

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About the Contributors
Colin Votzmeyer
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.
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.