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 bounces back from largest season halftime deficit to win third straight Big Ten Tournament Championship

Caitlin Clark finished with 34 points after scoring four in the first half.
Grace Smith
Iowa celebrates during a basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 6 Michigan at the TIAA Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Going into halftime of the 2024 Big Ten Tournament championship game, it looked like fans at “Carver North” would be returning to Iowa City in low spirits.

After dominating in their first two games against Penn State and Michigan, the No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball team found themselves down 11 points to No. 5 seed Nebraska after two quarters, the Hawkeyes’ largest halftime deficit of the season.

The Cornhuskers held the NCAA’s all-time leader in points, Caitlin Clark, to four points on 2-13 attempts, while guard Logan Nissley and forward Natalie Potts each scored in double digits. Nebraska shot over 45 percent from the field and had six players score on a three-pointer. 

Iowa went 4-16 from beyond the arc in the first half and shot 34 percent from the field. Clark, who went 0-9 from three, was visibly frustrated during moments while on Iowa’s bench. 

Perhaps playing with more urgency, Iowa turned it around in the second half, outrebounding Nebraska 23-14. Many of those came from forward Hannah Stuelke and guard Kate Martin, who also recorded two blocks apiece. 

Iowa also shot a stellar 55 percent from the field in the second half, and Clark flipped on her scoring switch to score 30 points on 10-14 shooting, hitting five three-pointers in the process.

The game was tied at 77 with 30 seconds remaining, and Nebraska had possession. Nissley’s jumper before the buzzer fell short, and the two teams headed into overtime. Iowa edged out the Cornhuskers 94-89 to win their third Big Ten Tournament championship in a row. 

“It never gets old cutting any net. I feel like we’re pretty good at that now,” Clark said in the post-game press conference. “We just found a way to win, and that speaks to the maturity we have as a team.” 

After time expired, Clark dribbled the ball down the court before launching it in the stands. 

“[UI Athletic Director] Beth Goetz came up to me and said, ‘You make it hard to find the basketball when you just chuck it into the stands,'” Clark joked. 

Clark said the team was forcing too many shots in the first half.

“We weren’t really smiling and having fun, and that was our problem [in the first half],” she said. “In the second half, we flipped the script, and things started to go our way.” 

Clark said her first-half performance was one of the worst of her career and that younger Caitlin wouldn’t have been able to bounce back as she did in the second half. 

“At halftime, I reset my mind and let it go,” she said. “I knew some shots weren’t going to go in, and that’s just how it works. When you’re in a championship environment, you have to let it go and move on to the next.” 

During the press conference, head coach Lisa Bluder praised Stuelke’s performance as the sophomore out of Cedar Rapids finished with 25 points and nine rebounds. 

“Hannah is so talented. Really, the only thing holding her back was her confidence, and we just keep pouring confidence into her because she is such a beautiful athlete,” Bluder said. 

Going into the NCAA tournament, Clark said the team has to be able to adjust if things don’t go their way.

“If we want to reach our goals in March, we are going to have to find ways to win that aren’t always pretty,” Clark said. “You got to be resilient and gritty.

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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.