It was an uncharacteristically slow start for the Iowa Hawkeyes today against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but eventually, things changed quickly as the Hawkeyes pulled away handily to another Big Ten win.
Iowa showed a much-improved defensive effort in this one, which is a confidence booster after they had shown some cracks in the armor previously. This showed this team can play defense.
The storyline, which continues to be one game after another, is the incredible performance put on by senior guard Caitlin Clark. After a slow first half, she woke up in the third and fourth quarters, seemingly draining everything she put up.
The Hawkeyes improved to 19-2 overall (8-1 Big Ten) with the win over the Cornhuskers. Here are the takeaways from the Hawkeyes’ win.
Iowa came out with a purpose on defense
After giving up 100 points to Ohio State, Lisa Bluder had her squad ready to play some defense. The Cornhuskers struggled mightily in the first quarter with scoring and simply holding onto the ball.
Iowa limited Nebrsaka to 4-of-18 shooting from the field and forced six turnovers in the first quarter. Nebraska had just 31 points at the half on an 11-for-33 shooting performance from the field with 10 turnovers already.
That is playing defense with intent and a message sent by Lisa Bluder.
Good defense came at a consequence
The Hawkeyes played great defense in the first half, but did it come at a consequence? Iowa had just 36 points at half on a 13-for-29 performance from the field, which in and of itself isn’t too bad, but a 3-for-13 shooting performance from 3-point range slowed down the prolific offense.
Iowa did end the half on a 9-0 run finding some juice and bringing the crowd back to life, but there seemed to be a bit of trade-off from good defense translating into the usual offense.
Sydney Affolter was the spark
Things were teetering on letting Nebraska take a lead into halftime until Sydney Affolter provided the spark. She stole the ball from the Cornhuskers for a putback to show some intensity, and from there, the Hawkeyes responded.
Affolter came off the bench and chipped in seven points and three rebounds at the half. She sparked the 9-0 run by Iowa to close out the first half and was the reason Carver-Hawkeye Arena was on its feet.
The Hawkeyes woke up with halftime adjustments
Iowa let Nebraska hang around until half and once the third quarter began, Iowa stepped on the gas and never looked back. This is a credit to Lisa Bluder and her staff.
They made adjustments and completely upped the Hawkeyes’ intensity. The Hawkeyes outscored Nebraska 27-18 to open up a 14-point lead heading into the final quarter with a 9-for-13 fourth-quarter shooting performance.
You can only contain Caitlin Clark for a time
Nebraska had Caitlin Clark bottled up for the better part of the first half and honestly, kudos to them. That is more success than many teams have had this year when taking on Clark.
Eventually, the dam broke, and that was in the third quarter when Caitlin Clark remembered who she was and woke up from three. She hit four threes in the third to open things up.
On a day where Caitlin Clark started a little cool, she woke up in the second half and was red hot for Iowa as she continues to chase down the all-time scoring record.
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