Iowa's Caitlin Clark, Monika Czinano are a powerful duo. These 5 impressive moments show why
On Friday, Iowa women's basketball will play for the chance to reach its first Elite Eight since 2019 when they take on Colorado on Friday (6:30 pm CT on ESPN).
It would be another signature moment in what's been a historic run for the program recently, including three Sweet 16 appearances in the last four years and three Big Ten championships (two tournament, one regular season) over the last two seasons.
Leading the charge for the Hawkeyes is perhaps the most productive duo in program history: Star point guard Caitlin Clark and veteran post player Monika Czinano. Known affectionately to Hawkeye fans as "The law firm of Clark & Czinano", the two rank second (Clark) and third (Czinano) in career points in program history. Clark also ranks second all-time in career assists while Czinano is one of the most efficient scorers in Iowa history, with an astonishing 67% career field goal percentage. Each has multiple All-Big Ten and All-American distinctions.
More:How good is Iowa's Caitlin Clark? Here are 15 stats that put her dominance in perspective.
Their connection on the court is the catalyst to the team's success, and together they've combined for several notable postseason performances. Iowa will need continued excellence in the NCAA Tournament if the program is to reach its first Final Four in 30 years. But first, let's look back at their best postseason performances (Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament games) to date.
Here are Clark and Czinano's top postseason performances together listed in chronological order:
2021 Big Ten tournament quarterfinal against Purdue
Clark- 27 points, seven rebounds and nine assists / Czinano- 38 points, nine rebounds
Czinano, two years Clark's elder, had played in the postseason previously but the 2021 Big Ten Tournament was Clark's debut. The duo's first game together in that setting produced one of their strongest efforts. Czinano was the best player on the court, shooting 89% from the field (16-18) and Clark posted the game-high in assists. A tightly-contest game throughout turned into a double-digit Iowa win, 83-72.
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2021 NCAA Tournament Round of 32 game against Kentucky
Clark- 35 points, seven rebounds and 6 assists / Czinano- 14 points, eight rebounds
A few weeks later, Clark and Czinano led Iowa to the Sweet 16 after an 86-72 win over Kentucky. This was Clark's best NCAA Tournament performance to date. Not only is the 35 points the most she's scored in the Tournament, she did it on 62% shooting from the field (13-21), 50% from the 3-point line and on a near one-point-per-minute pace (37 minutes played). Czinano's numbers aren't eye-popping relative to other standout performances, but she recorded a game-high eight rebounds and held Kentucky's starting forwards to just six points for the game.
2022 Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Nebraska
Clark- 41 points, nine rebounds and three assists / Czinano- 22 points, two rebounds
En route to the 2022 Big Ten Tournament championship, Iowa had to get past Nebraska, a team that played the Hawkeyes in two close games during the regular season. Iowa relied heavily on Clark and Czinano's scoring prowess as they were the only two players on the team to attempt double-digit shots. Clark posted 48/38/83 shooting splits and Czinano was 9-for-11 from the field as a strong second-half effort gave Iowa an 83-66 win. Clark's 41 points is a career-high in postseason games.
More:Caitlin Clark's 5 best quotes of the Iowa women's basketball season
2023 Big Ten Tournament championship game against Ohio State
Clark- 30 points, 10 rebounds and 17 assists / Czinano- 26 points, seven rebounds
This season's Big Ten Tournament championship game was arguably Clark and Czinano's best game as a duo in Iowa uniforms. Clark recorded the first-ever triple-double in a Big Ten Women's Tournament game, while Czinano set a Big Ten Tournament record for field goal percentage, going 11-of-12 (.917). Iowa's 106-72 win over Ohio State was the largest margin of victory in a women's title game in Big Ten history.
2023 NCAA Tournament Round of 32 game against Georgia
Clark- 22 points, 12 assists and three steals / Czinano- 20 points, nine rebounds
Iowa advanced to this season's Sweet 16 behind a hard-fought 74-66 win over Georgia, it was one of the grittiest performances of the duo's careers. Czinano battled Georgia's two-post player system with little rest time as freshman post player Hannah Stuelke missed the game with an injury. Despite the size and length challenges, she scored 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting and had a critical steal in the final two minutes to hold Georgia off.
It wasn't Clark's best shooting night, just 6-for-17, but she controlled the game with her passing ability, including eight assists in the second half. Overall she scored or assisted on 31 of Iowa's 33 second-half points. Her 22-12 stat line was her third career NCAA Tournament game with at least 20 points and 10 assists, which is the most in Division I basketball since 2000, with no other player having more than one.