Blistering first quarter propels No. 9 Iowa women's basketball past Penn State
IOWA CITY — There were no morning cobwebs, no eye gunk still lingering with the rare a.m. tip. Instead, the No. 9 Iowa women’s basketball team woke up and came out surging with one of the most dominant quarters in program history.
The Hawkeyes had more than enough cushion for the day after the opening 10 minutes Saturday, setting program records for field goals and assists in a quarter en route to a 108-67 win over Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. An unusually early 11:30 a.m. tip did nothing to deter 12,436 Iowa supporters from showing up and the Hawkeyes (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten Conference) from giving them a show.
"We set the tempo — offensively, defensively," said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, "and I thought our crowd was amazing. Just gave us some unbelievable energy to begin the game, so that was great."
Overall, Iowa finished 15-for-20 from the field with 13 assists, three treys and just two turnovers in the first quarter — a frame the Hawkeyes exited owning a robust 34-15 advantage. Six different Iowa players scored in the opening 10 minutes. Program pillars Monika Czinano and Caitlin Clark combined for more field goals (nine) and points (19) in the first quarter than Penn State had (15 points on six field goals).
Clark finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Czinano added 20 as both sat for large stretches of the second half. McKenna Warnock added 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with several strong bench performances in extended minutes.
"This team is pretty unselfish," Bluder said. "They did a great job of finding each other. They broke the press when it was there. They pushed the ball really well in transition. We're running the floor really well right now and getting some very high-percentage shots."
Hannah Stuelke had a nice follow-up performance to Thursday’s showing, pouring in 11 points in seven minutes despite picking up four fouls. Sydney Affolter chimed in with a career-high 12 points, including her second and third treys of the season.
Iowa’s defensive work was just as solid. Penn State (11-7, 2-5) shot an abysmal 14% from deep (3-for-21), which included misses on 12 of its first 13 downtown attempts. The Lady Lions have by no means been a Big Ten juggernaut in recent seasons, but Iowa made a team that hung with Michigan and Indiana this season look silly.
In particular was the lockdown effort on Penn State's Makenna Marisa, who came in averaging more than 18 points per game but was limited to just 5 on 2-for-13 shooting.
"It all started on defense for us, and I always talk about that (how good we are) when we really get stops on the defensive end," Clark said. "Gabbie Marshall, she has 3 points, but the way she played defense was incredible today I don't think people understand, Makenna Marisa is one of the best players in our conference, and Gabbie held her to 2-for-13 from the field, 0-for-4 from three.
"That's pretty impressive. That's a big deal."
While there wasn’t a ton to gain from this two-game homestand, other than continual improvement toward March, Iowa didn’t mess around with two foes it clearly towered over. The Hawkeyes have done a solid job avoiding bad Big Ten losses during their recent run of dominance.
As for the tip time, well, Clark is a fan — sort of.
"I mean, I wouldn't say it's my first choice," Clark said with a laugh. "But if we play like this every time, I'll play at 11:30 every game."
Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.