Despite 46 points from Caitlin Clark, shorthanded Iowa women's basketball falls at Michigan

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

Trekking into Michigan was always going to be a tough task for the Iowa women's basketball team, made more difficult with the Hawkeyes still down two starters.

Iowa, though, gave it everything it had.

An insane fourth quarter from Caitlin Clark certainly made those inside Crisler Center nervous, but the massive hole the Hawkeyes fell into throughout the second half proved too deep. The No. 5 Wolverines hung on for a 98-90 win Sunday evening, in a game they once led by 25.

Iowa's ability to positively spin this tough task became much easier after Clark delivered a quarter for the ages. She scored 25 of her career-high 46 points in the final period, draining multiple logo threes as part of a potent downtown barrage.

Clark finished 8-for-10, included 4-for-5 from deep, in the fourth quarter. Additionally, she added a 12-for-14 showing at the free-throw line and 10 assists to an overall ridiculous stat line.

More:Caitlin Clark was so ridiculous in 4th quarter that she was trending on Twitter in Iowa

Monika Czinano added 13 points to go with Kate Martin's 11. Extended minutes for Sydney Affolter yielded a productive line as well: seven points and six rebounds, four offensive. 

Still reeling from a physical stretch of Big Ten basketball, McKenna Warnock and Gabbie Marshall watched from the sidelines for a second straight game. Marshall at least dressed, while Warnock's left hand/wrist still remained wrapped. Their absences were felt throughout, particularly early as Michigan constructed a double-digit lead late in the first quarter.

More:Leistikow: How lifelong Iowan Caitlin Clark grew into a must-watch basketball star

With massive advantages in rebounds (44-27) and paint points (54-34), the Wolverines leaned on the dominant interior play that's carried them to the top of the league. Czinano picked up two first-quarter fouls, and Michigan was off. Naz Hillmon again led the charge, as expected, with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Double-digit assistance came from Laila Phelia (24 points), Maddie Nolan (17 points) and Emily Kiser (10 points).

The Hawkeyes hung around early, cutting the deficit to five with 1:24 to go in the opening quarter. But the remaining action until the fourth soon became an unsuccessful game of catch-up with the hole only growing. Iowa trailed by 12 at the break and were down 25-plus midway through the third quarter before Clark awoke.

Her heroics allowed Iowa to climb back in and trim the deficit down to five twice in the final two minutes. But the Hawkeyes ran out of time before a total comeback could be completed. As long as Marshall and Warnock return in due time, Iowa should feel a bit better entering Wednesday's home game versus Minnesota.     

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.