Late push from Iowa women's basketball falls short in loss to No. 12 Maryland

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — The gobs of pink sat ready to explode inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, if only the home team would provide a reason to roar. With breast cancer awareness in full swing, every element seemed in play for this to be another big night for Iowa women's basketball. 

Maryland wasn't having it. 

A brief opening surge from the No. 24 Hawkeyes soon gave way to an unsuccessful chase with the Terrapins setting the pace. Iowa delivered some late fireworks, but Monday's final product was an 81-69 Maryland win that further cemented the gap between the Hawkeyes and the Big Ten's upper echelon.  

Similar to Iowa's unsuccessful comeback at Michigan, the Hawkeyes dug too deep a hole for their late rally to fully resonate. A second half mostly spent trailing by double digits saw the Hawkeyes climb within five with 6:47 to go, only for Maryland to find enough juice late to fend off the comeback.    

"Maryland's defense is just different because they front the post and switch every single screen, which nobody else in the Big Ten does," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "Nobody that we've ever played against has done that this year. I thought we were kind of prepared for it but obviously, their length also hurts you. They are really long and very athletic."  

The closing push came after Maryland dominated for the better part of 15 minutes and racked up some important advantages. The Terps finished with a 47-31 edge on the glass, including a 19-11 edge in offensive rebounds. Angel Reese buoyed that with 13 rebounds to go with 25 points.  

After grabbing a double-digit advantage midway through the second quarter, the Terps rode a fierce inside game and looked ready to head back east with a blowout win. The high-water mark was a 57-37 advantage with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter. 

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark shoots against Maryland on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Slowly but surely, Iowa whittled it down to a manageable range. Caitlin Clark tried again for another late, momentum-snatching surge after a tough start. The star sophomore missed her first seven shots and didn't hit from outside until midway through the third quarter — only to drain two more treys before the final period commenced, including a 35-foot bank shot at the horn. It was the first sign of life that Iowa anticipated coming much sooner. 

"They were pretty glued to me, and that's how it's going to be from here on out. That's how it has been," said Clark, who finished with 19 points and 10 turnovers on 7-for-25 shooting. "Like coach Bluder said, it wasn't really a defense I had seen before. I think I could've handled it a little better. But they're long. They switch one through five. Obviously pretty physical with me.

"I think that bothered me more than it should have."   

An unlikely source helped Iowa's fourth-quarter push. With Monika Czinano (16 points) in foul trouble, the Hawkeyes turned to freshman Addison O'Grady for some pivotal closing minutes. She had six points in the fourth and was part of Iowa's late defensive resurgence, which forced Maryland into seven misses with four turnovers and cracked the door for something special. 

However, a crucial 10-2 Maryland run put the Hawkeyes down 13 with 3:13 left. On a night when league leader Indiana lost at Nebraska — and one day after second-place Michigan fell to Northwestern — there was opportunity to be had for Iowa in what was already a big affair. 

"Maryland played a really good game," Bluder said, "on both sides of the ball."

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.