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

Iowa women’s basketball notebook | Hawkeyes drop to No. 4, anticipate Clark’s scoring record and Michigan on Thursday

Caitlin Clark is eight points shy of Kelsey Plum’s record, but her sights are just as focused on beating the Wolverines.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark and Iowa guard Kate Martin answer questions from the media after a women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Clark ended the game eight points shy of breaking the women’s NCAA record for most points scored in a collegiate career. The Cornhuskers defeated the Hawkeyes, 82-79.

The No. 4 Iowa women’s basketball team can get the motor going again for a push into the postseason with a return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Michigan on Thursday.

The Hawkeyes, now 22-3, are down to fourth in the AP Poll from second last week after falling to Nebraska, 82-79, in Lincoln on Feb. 11.

There, Iowa blew a 69-55 lead to start the fourth quarter, in which Caitlin Clark entered with 31 points but did not score in those final 10 minutes of the game.

RELATED: No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball collapses in fourth quarter, falls to Nebraska

Clark is now at 3,250 points in her career, so she will need eight more to become the NCAA Division I women’s basketball all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kelsey Plum.

And that’s not to mention Clark is 148 shy of passing Pete Maravich to become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history — men’s or women’s.

And what better environment for her to surpass Plum in than in front of a sold-out home crowd in Iowa City on Thursday, where tickets are going for upward of $1,000.

“That’ll be a lot of fun, but I think my main focus is just honestly going out there and having a blast with my teammates and enjoying it,” Clark said of breaking the record in Thursday’s game. “Obviously we need to come out and perform really well.”

And after very limited minutes against Nebraska, starting guard Molly Davis was back to practicing on Monday, providing hope for the Hawkeyes that she — and Clark, who was also under the weather in Lincoln — will be back to providing a boost on both ends of the floor.

This week’s matchup will bring the Michigan Wolverines to town, looking to improve upon their 16-9 overall record and 7-6 standing in the Big Ten.

Still, the Wolverines are 4-4 in away bouts this year, and Carver will not be welcoming for any Michigan momentum as it is sure to be full-fledged in support of Clark’s shot at the record.

Michigan did snag an impressive win over now-No. 2 Ohio State, 69-60, on Dec. 30, but that does not erase bad — and often double-digit — losses to middle-of-the-road Big Ten teams such as Illinois and including Nebraska twice.

But the Wolverines did last beat Rutgers, 86-58, at home on Feb. 10, providing a small boost moving into Thursday — and proving the Hawkeyes must prioritize defense to deny Michigan of pouring in that many points again and keeping the game close as a result.

That’s because the Wolverines are averaging just 70 points per game this season behind nothing crazy on offense — including shooting 43 percent from the field, 36 percent from deep, and 70 percent from the free throw line.

Six-foot guard Laila Phelia is leading the Blue with 16.1 points per game in by far the most minutes on the team, the offense really relying on her with the highest volume from the field — where she shoots just 40 percent.

At 5-foot-9, guard Lauren Hansen is the only other Wolverine averaging double-digits with her 11.6 points per game. And she takes the highest volume from three, quite capable of getting hot as she is shooting 36 percent from out there this season.

“[Michigan is a] really good three-point-shooting team as far as anybody can really hurt you,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “You know about Laila Phelia — she’s a leading scorer and tremendous player … but then Lauren Hansen … she’s a true point guard with three-point range.”

And although Michigan is averaging a decent 36.2 rebounds per game, its 13.1 assists per game on an average of 15 turnovers make this offense very porous for the Hawkeyes to strike and constrict it from the start.

And a stronger offensive start than Sunday’s game against Nebraska will be a necessity for the Hawkeyes to establish offensive prowess early as the Wolverines are holding opponents to an average of just 61.3 points per game.

That’s fueled by 18 points off of turnovers per game, meaning a significant source of Michigan scoring comes from forcing changes of possession. 

“They’re a good defensive team; they rebound well,” Bluder said. “I think those are the things that really concern me … I feel like our post game is good against them. We need to get out and run against them.”

And seven steals per game certainly helps, so add ball security and valued possessions to the list of boxes Iowa must check to escape with a win and get back on track for the end of the regular season in the coming weeks.

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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.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.