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 reaches national championship with win over UConn

The Hawkeyes defeated UConn, 71-69, on Friday night to advance to their second straight national title game.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Members of the Iowa women’s basketball team cheer during a NCAA Tournament Final Four game between No. 1 Iowa and No. 3 UConn at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Ayrton Breckenridge/The Daily Iowan)

CLEVELAND — The Hawks are headed to the national championship.

Iowa women’s basketball defeated UConn, 71-69, on Friday night to advance to its second straight national title game. The Hawkeyes were led by Hannah Stuelke’s 23 points and guard Caitlin Clark, who had 21 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.

UConn guard Paige Bueckers finished the night with 17 points. The Huskies had previously won the last six contests against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa will play No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday, hoping to claim the program’s first national championship and again ruin a perfect season for the Gamecocks. Last year, Iowa upset undefeated South Carolina in the Final Four behind Clark’s 41 points.

The Gamecocks beat No. 3 North Carolina State on Friday night to punch their ticket to the finals. South Carolina’s last two NCAA titles came in 2022 and 2017.

How it happened 

UConn wins the tip and turns the ball over with an errant pass. Clark drives to the hoop and gets the Hawks on the board. KK Arnold gives UConn a 5-2 lead with a triple, and Martin ties it up with a 3-pointer of her own. A three from Nika Mühl puts the Huskies up 10-5. Arnold with an and-one layup to give UConn an eight-point lead. UConn’s defense has given Clark some problems early. At the first media timeout, the Huskies are up 13-7, going 5-of-6 from the field with five assists.

Out of the timeout, Stuelke gets to the hoop, and then UConn turns the ball over. Stuelke bullies her way to the paint and gets the layup plus the foul. She misses the free throw, though, and the Hawkeyes trail by two. UConn hits two straight triples to go up, 19-11. Feuerbach is wide open from downtown and hits it to get the Hawks within five at the end of the first quarter. The Hawkeyes have seven turnovers and are 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Bueckers opens the second quarter for UConn with a nice pass inside to Edwards, who converts the layup. Lots of turnovers (10) for Iowa so far. UConn goes up 25-16, and Bluder calls a timeout with 6:41 left in the half.

Bueckers hits a three to give UConn a 12-point lead. Everything just looks sloppy for Iowa right now. Clark finally gets to the basket to end a 7-0 Huskie run. Affolter hits a three to make it a six-point game, bringing Iowa fans to their feet, but Arnold silences the crowd with a layup.

UConn heads to the locker room at half with a 32-26 lead. Clark has six points, six rebounds, and four assists while shooting 0-for-6 from deep. Arnold leads all scorers with 10 points. It honestly feels like the Hawkeyes are down by a lot more than six, and they probably should be with 12 turnovers. Every Iowa starter has at least one turnover.

How will the Hawkeyes respond? Just 20 more guaranteed minutes in an Iowa uniform for Clark, Marshall, Martin, Sharon Goodman, and on the bench, Molly Davis.

The Hawks start the second half with a Marshall triple. Then, Clark does her signature step to the left and hits her first 3-pointer of the game. Bueckers answers with a triple and then gets to the hoop, now leading all scorers with 14 points. UConn leads 41-37 at the media timeout.

Stuelke hits two free throws to get Iowa within two, but then she’s called for a shooting foul on the other end, and the Huskies go back up by five.

Clark splashes a triple and gets the foul as she falls to the ground. She completes the four-point play to make it 44-43 UConn. Martin fouls and Edwards goes 1-for-2 at the line. Stuelke ties the game up, and then Marshall forces a Bueckers turnover. Timeout UConn with the score knotted at 45. A ‘Let’s go Hawks’ chant is ringing through Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse right now.

Arnold picks up her fourth foul, which is huge for Iowa and Stuelke down low. Stuelke makes both free throws to put the Hawks up, 47-45. UConn ties it up, but Martin is knocked to the floor. It’s under review as Martin heads to the locker room. Before the review is over, Martin comes back out to the bench, igniting a loud cheer for the Hawkeye-heavy crowd. No foul is called.

Iowa and UConn go back and forth in the paint, and the game is tied at 51 heading into the final 10 minutes. Iowa is shooting 40 percent from the field compared to UConn’s 45 percent.

The Hawkeyes open the fourth quarter strong with a layup by Stuelke and a step-back triple from Clark. No. 22 is starting to feel her shot, hitting a jumper from inside the 3-point line. UConn is still hanging around, though. Iowa calls timeout with a 60-57 lead.

Out of the timeout, Clark gets a steal and passes it off to Stuelke for the layup. Martin hits a turnaround jumper to give Iowa its biggest lead of the game at seven. Iowa gets a stop and Marshall hits a deep two-pointer — it is loud. A steal by Mühl turns into a pull-up triple by Bueckers. She cuts the Huskies’ deficit to four.

Martin nails another turnaround jumper with the clock shot winding down. After a layup by Arnold, UConn calls a timeout. With 2:38 left, Iowa leads, 68-64.

Another big bucket by Martin to put Iowa back up by six. Stuelke turnover and Mühl hits a clutch three to put UConn within one. Timeout Iowa with 39.3 seconds left.

Another turnover by Stuelke. UConn has the ball down by one point with 9.3 seconds left.

WOW. Marshall draws an offensive foul. Iowa gets the ball back with 3.9 seconds left. Timeout UConn.

Martin gets it into Clark, and she is immediately fouled. Clark hits the first one. She misses the second, but Affolter grabs the rebound and a jump ball is called. Possession Iowa.

The Hawkeyes are going to the natty.

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
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.