No. 7 Iowa women's basketball rolls to 27th consecutive win over Wisconsin
IOWA CITY — For about five minutes Wednesday, Wisconsin seemed undeterred and unintimidated by Iowa and another solid Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd. The Badgers at least made it through the game's opening stretch without getting run out of the gym.
Iowa soon brought Wisconsin back to reality.
Until there’s a seismic women’s basketball power shift inside the Big Ten, who knows how long the Hawkeyes’ jaw-dropping winning streak over the Badgers will continue. Wednesday was more of the same as No. 7 Iowa rolled to a 91-61 victory — its 27th consecutive win over the Badgers dating to 2007.
After overpowering Big Ten bottom feeder Rutgers Sunday with the most points Iowa has ever scored in a conference game (111), a similar script seemed inevitable with Wisconsin in town. The Badgers are actually below the Scarlet Knights in the league standings. All the Iowa-Wisconsin drama usually evaporates before the opening quarter ends.
Wisconsin made the Hawkeyes (21-5, 13-2 Big Ten Conference) work a bit longer. The Badgers (8-19, 3-12) owned a seven-point lead less than five minutes into the game and kept Caitlin Clark off the board in the process.
Iowa took over from there.
The Hawkeyes still managed a double-digit advantage before the first quarter ended, immediately ripping off a 14-0 surge after Wisconsin grabbed its largest lead. Another 12-0 Iowa sprint unfolded moments into the second quarter to put the Hawkeyes ahead, 38-19. A 48-28 intermission lead never dipped below 20 in the second half.
"We can go out there and beat them, but we want to get better at the same time," Clark said. "So I think executing and running our stuff to the best of our ability ... was definitely a focus for us."
Iowa’s box score was full of familiar figures. Clark got started on her solid game early with an assist-heavy first quarter. She pretty much got anything she wanted in transition, often hitting Monika Czinano for easy buckets or charging to the hole herself. In finishing with 24 points, six rebounds and eight assists, Clark became the first Big Ten women's basketball player to rank top-10 all-time in career scoring and assists.
Even when Wisconsin committed to double-teaming the post — which the Badgers did against Czinano (19 points) and Hannah Stuelke on multiple occasions — Iowa found a way to connect. Stuelke again provided timely energy injections with nine points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes. McKenna Warnock looked like herself for the first time in a few games with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Plenty of additional production spilled throughout the roster.
"They started with doubling the post, and I thought we did some really good things in adjusting to that and really taking advantage of the double," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "That's what you have to do when somebody does something like that. You have to burn them on it."
With what’s up next, the Hawkeyes needed to avoid a catastrophic stumble to keep their Big Ten regular-season title hopes alive. The Hawkeyes’ closing stretch isn’t easy — at Nebraska (Saturday), at No. 8 Maryland (Feb. 21), versus No. 2 Indiana (Feb. 26) — and Iowa might need to win all of them to run down the league-leading Hoosiers. Then comes the postseason, where the entire season’s narrative is at stake.
Getting to those things first required a triumph over Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes’ dominance over the Badgers certainly wasn’t ending on this night.
"That's something we've talked about the last few days, these are the games (you have to win) to win a Big Ten regular-season title," Clark said. "If you don't take care of every single game, you don't have the chance to hoist the trophy at the end of the regular season.
"You have to come to play every single night, and I think our team understands that."
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.