Iowa women's basketball: Back from COVID-19 disruption, Hawkeyes struggle in loss at Duke

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

No. 800 will have to wait a little longer.

Call it rust after a COVID-19 outbreak meant two weeks between games. Call it just an off night. But whatever it was that plagued the Iowa women's basketball team Thursday night at Duke, the No. 12 Hawkeyes didn't look like themselves. A 79-64 loss means Lisa Bluder's shot at 800 career wins will be on hold until at least Sunday. 

After scoring eight points in the game's first 2 1/2 minutes, the Iowa offense was out of sync the rest of the night. Almost every 3-pointer clanked without falling. Trips to the free-throw line were few and far between. Even a slew of layups couldn't find the bottom of the net.

In an ironic twist, it was Iowa's defense that kept the score somewhat close through the opening half. But the Blue Devils (7-0) eventually broke free early in the third quarter and didn't see their cushion dip below double digits over the final 17 minutes. 

The overall futility made for a rough box score. Iowa (4-1) put three in double figures — Caitlin Clark (22), Monika Czinano (21 points) and Kate Martin (12) — but only Czinano could score consistently. The Hawkeyes finished a dismal 3-for-19 from deep, with the first trey not arriving until 3:29 remained in the third quarter. Clark racked up 12 of those misses by herself. Eighteen turnovers to 15 assists is a ratio Iowa isn't used to seeing. 

Duke, meanwhile, had it rolling. Freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson delivered 19 points buoyed by four treys, while Celeste Taylor contributed a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds). Key advantages on the boards (a 45-35 edge with 16 offensive rebounds) and in points off turnovers (19-9) allowed the Blue Devils to cruise late with little resistance.

So, what's the concern level for Iowa? Struggles on the offensive end do seem a bit more of an anomaly, considering the Hawkeyes usually flow on that side with few disruptions. But that doesn't ease the urgency needed given what's ahead. Iowa opens the Big Ten schedule Sunday versus Michigan State, then heads to Ames for a ranked showdown vs. Iowa State on Wednesday. 

A lackluster showing Thursday is understandable given the circumstances. There's no room, though, for a follow-up performance of similar futility. 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.