Caitlin Clark breaks another Big Ten record as Iowa women's basketball rolls by Penn State

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

Playing for the second time in three days, amid an even busier week, is no easy task — even if the opponents aren't daunting on paper. Iowa women's basketball had to navigate such a challenge Tuesday evening. 

The No. 24 Hawkeyes needed a half to warm up at Penn State, but everything after the break fell in line with what was expected. Iowa's emphatic run to start the third quarter buried the Lady Lions and propelled the Hawkeyes to a 107-79 win at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Iowa (13-4, 7-1 Big Ten Conference) has now won six straight to stay a half-game out of first place in the league.

Squeezing in this re-scheduled game from Dec. 30 meant Iowa had to trek east on a one-day prep after beating Illinois on Sunday in a game that was also not on the original slate.

The Lady Lions countered Iowa for a half — preventing that game-clinching surge Lisa Bluder's squad loves to deliver — but Penn State (9-9, 3-5) couldn't keep the door closed forever. The Hawkeyes busted through with a 12-1 run to begin the second half, transforming a modest 52-47 lead into a robust 64-48 advantage. Eight of those points arrived via McKenna Warnock, who exited in the first half with a hand injury but returned with authority when Iowa needed her most. 

Iowa's McKenna Warnock, showing during a Jan. 16 game vs. Nebraska, led the Hawkeyes with 25 points on Tuesday at Penn State.

Twelve of Warnock's game-high 25 points came in the momentum-snatching third quarter, as the Hawkeyes ballooned their lead to 20 before closing even stronger.

The usual contributors shined as well. Although it wasn't the most efficient shooting night for Caitlin Clark, she still drained four treys and poured in 20 points — all while delivering a career-high 17 assists. That figure shattered the Big Ten mark for most assists in a conference game. Iowa as a whole broke its program record for assists in a game with 37. 

"That's Iowa basketball at its finest right there," Clark said. "We love it."

Monitoring the record books is becoming a regular thing each time Clark takes the floor. Clark finished three rebounds short of her fifth triple-double of the season.

Double-digit assistance also arrived from Monika Czinano (24 points) and Gabbie Marshall (12 points), who helped Iowa to another strong 3-point effort with four treys. The Hawkeyes have seemingly shook off the long-range woes that plagued them earlier in the season. 

On Sunday, Bluder opened her Illinois postgame press gathering by stating, "We came in here and took care of business." Tuesday featured a similar objective. Iowa took care of business without any drama. 

Now it's on to Friday's trip to Northwestern. 

"I feel like we're really getting back to us now," Clark said.  

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. 

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, shown during Sunday's game vs. Illinois, dished out 17 assists Tuesday at Penn State to set a Big Ten record for most assists in a conference game.