May 28, 2024

Shooting problems cause No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball to lose to Kansas State 65-58 in their season opener.

On Thursday night, the No. 2 Iowa women’s basketball team returned to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and lost to Kansas State in its first-ever game of the season.

The Hawkeyes came into the game coming off a Nov. 12 victory over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, where Caitlin Clark recorded a triple-double with 24 points, becoming the program’s all-time top scorer.

However, the Hawkeyes had a bad night this time around, as the Wildcats simply outperformed them, going 22 of 61 overall from the field and 2 of 21 from beyond the arc for 36 and 10 percent, respectively.

Clark finished the game with 24 points, but she did not shoot as well as she usually does. She only made nine of her 32 jump shots, and she only made two of her 16 attempted three-pointers.

Clark acknowledged that the game was “not Iowa basketball” and said, “[I’m going] to take responsibility for that.” “I need to take some better shots and get us into our offence a little more.” There are going to be nights when I’m not the best shooter, and I don’t think I did a very good job of getting to the hoop or drawing fouls when we needed to.

 

“But there were a lot of other areas that we could also improve on, and we can still win games when we don’t shoot the ball well,” Clark continued. “There are other ways we can win.

After leading three points for the majority of the fourth quarter, Kansas State went on a 12-0 run to end the game, leaving the Black and Gold unable to respond.

Lisa Bluder, the head coach of the Hawkeyes, decided to start guard Sydney Affolter instead of guard Molly Davis in yet another starting lineup change.

Hannah Stuelke, an Iowa second-year forward, began the game at the five position and faced Kansas State centre Ayoka Lee, a 6-foot-6 post monster.

Even with the Iowa big men playing well on both ends of the court, Lee finished the game with 22 points. The Wildcats came to rely more and more on her to carry them to victory as she cemented her position in the post.

When the Hawkeyes had the ball, Stuelke took advantage of her quickness to sprint the floor ahead of Lee and establish her own position in the paint while Lee attempted to establish some offensive dominance in the paint.

Stuelke took some of the load after Clark started the game slowly, going just 1 of 7 from the field in the first quarter. In particular, Stuelke’s reverse rip-through to the rim caused Lee to stumble and gave the Cedar Rapids native a and-one.

With a few tipped shots and rejections of entry passes, the Hawkeyes played strong rim defence. Clark even took a charge to force Lee to the bench early.

However, Iowa gave up five turnovers in the first half, even though they were making the correct passes on good ball movement, and the Hawkeyes and Wildcats were tied at 13 heading into the second half.

“We had a difficult beginning to the game, and we didn’t feel like we could really get our feet under us and take back control of the outcome,” Clark remarked. “We were a little off-cue in that regard and still getting used to playing with each other, but those aren’t mistakes we usually make on a daily basis,” the player said.

With the ball in her hands, Stuelke has grown more assured. She converted a crossover into a drive and finished through contact before Affolter produced a powerful finish of her own for a and-one.

Even so, the Hawkeyes struggled to find their shooting rhythm, going just 8 of 19 overall in the second half, with three misses in a row.

However, with one minute remaining in the half, Clark made her first three of the game, as well as the team’s first, and the Hawkeyes led 30-29 at the half.

Shooting conflicts persist.
Clark’s trademark catch-and-shoot off-balance deep ball was the source of her second three-pointer, but Kansas State’s Lee frequently answered, using her size to find easy layups around the rim and scoring six points in the third.

With three straight Kansas State fouls, momentum might have gradually shifted in the Hawkeyes’ favour, but the Wildcats pulled away with a 7-0 run. The Hawkeyes responded with a 7-0 run that included three free throws from Iowa’s Davis and a and-one from Clark.

Halfway through the third, the game was tied again, this time at 42 apiece. And there are still two minutes left.

When Clark turned to the crowd and pumped her arms following her step-back pull-up to put the Hawkeyes up two heading into the fourth, Iowa fans were enthusiastic, upbeat, and ready for an exciting final leg of play.

Before a drive and a finish over Lee at the rim, Affolter came up big early, grabbing an offensive board (she’s averaging almost 10 boards per game this year).

During the quarter, Davis led the Iowa offence with seven points, including a nice crossover into a floater with the shot clock running out.

“I wanted to emphasise getting to the rim because I knew that our outside shots weren’t falling,” Davis stated. “I entered the game with an attack mentality, hoping to get to the rim and try to open up some other opportunities in addition to drawing some fouls.”

Nevertheless, for the majority of the quarter, the Wildcats kept the Iowa lead to just three points by turning to Lee in the post when their shots did not fall from the outside.

With slightly more than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Lee scored her 20th point of the contest on a reverse layup, cutting the Iowa lead to one and then to none as her free throws put Kansas State ahead once more in the closing minutes.

Kansas State’s lead was increased to three points when Wildcat guard Gabby Gregory made a mid-range jumper after Clark missed a one-legged pull-up off the back rim from the right side. The Hawkeyes had a second opportunity to tie the game after Stuelke’s costly turnover while trying to pass the ball to Clark gave the Wildcats a chance to extend their lead.

With still a minute remaining, Clark made a fadeaway corner three that he air-balled and gave Kansas State two huge free throws that went in, stretching the lead to five and eventually seven points, and handing the Hawkeyes their first defeat of the season, 65-58.

Next up
The Hawkeyes will host the in-state rival Drake Bulldogs on Sunday for their second home game of the week. This one is their first.

The Bulldogs, who last played Iowa State on November 12 and won easily, 85-73, will be returning from a week off.

“This setback won’t ruin our season or anything; rather, it will teach us a lot of things we can improve upon, which is exciting,” Clark remarked. “On Sunday, we get to return to work and play a really, really good Drake team.”

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