No. 3 Indiana slows No. 6 Iowa women's basketball, ending Hawkeyes' 8-game winning streak
Locked in a four-quarter battle with a record-setting crowd pouring in opposing noise, No. 6 Iowa spent Thursday night just trying to survive this Big Ten women's basketball game.
The Hawkeyes had moments where it appeared they might escape Assembly Hall with a massive road victory. No. 3 Indiana and its suffocating defense had other ideas.
Ultimately, Iowa couldn’t find enough offensive stability to push through, as the Hawkeyes saw their eight-game winning streak end, 87-78, in front of a raucous 13,046 in Bloomington, Ind. That set a new Assembly Hall attendance record for Indiana women’s basketball.
Expecting things to flow perfectly deep in enemy territory isn’t usually a realistic outlook, especially with a daunting foe on the other side. But watching an Iowa offense that had put up 80-plus points in 13 consecutive games sputter to the finish line was still a different sight to see.
Box score oddities dominated this one, most notably the absence of Monika Czinano's usually reliable scoring. The all-Big Ten center mustered six points while shooting just 3-for-6 from the field, as Indiana (23-1, 13-1 Big Ten Conference) clogged the paint and made it difficult for Czinano to find the rhythm she usually does. Her only points of the second half didn’t arrive until 3:53 remained in the game, shortly before she fouled out with 2:51 to go.
The highly anticipated down-low battle firmly went to the Hoosiers’ Mackenzie Holmes, who finished with 24 points and ignited Indiana’s 15-5 momentum-snatching run in the fourth quarter. Her layup gave Indiana a 64-62 advantage with 8:06 to go — and the Hoosiers never trailed again. Indiana grabbed its first double-digit advantage, 77-67, right before Czinano’s only second-half bucket.
With her running mate stifled, Caitlin Clark did her best to keep Iowa afloat. She delivered 10 of her game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter as the Hawkeyes tried to fight through the noise for another emphatic road victory. The effort went unrewarded.
More offensive futility uncharacteristically arrived at the free-throw line, where Iowa (19-5, 11-2) often cashes in when things break down. However, the Hawkeyes finished 12-for-23 there — punctuated by Hannah Stuelke’s 0-for-8 showing. It’s been about the only thing that’s gone wrong during her productive freshman season.
Thriving alongside Holmes was Grace Berger, a veteran guard who had to suffer through three Iowa losses last season. Berger finished with 26 points and nine rebounds.
The loss pushed Iowa 1 1/2 games behind Indiana at the Big Ten’s top, with another matchup remaining between the two in the regular-season finale. While the Hawkeyes certainly would’ve liked to get this one, there are more sizable opportunities up ahead to finish this Big Ten season with authority.
Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.