INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder admitted after her team’s Big Ten Tournament game on Wednesday that she and her high-flying, points-a-plenty squad were left stunned at halftime at the number of three-pointers they missed despite many clean looks at the basket.
It is a good thing that the Hawkeyes have a very potent Plan B on the inside, and Monika Czinano took her place among school and conference legends with her stunning performance in leading Iowa to the quarterfinals.
Czinano scored a career-high 38 points, making 16 of her 18 shots from the field, as the No. 6 seed Hawkeyes defeated a game Purdue Boilermakers squad 83-72 in the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Caitlin Clark, the nation’s leading scorer, rebounded from a slow start shooting to chip in with 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists.
Combining for 65 of the team’s 83 points, Czinano and Clark made up for the team’s rare off night from three-point range, with the Hawkeyes making just three of their 22 attempts from behind the arc. Iowa’s usual marksmanship has allowed it to become the nation’s second-leading scoring offense at 87 points per game.
“If you were going to tell me we made three 3-pointers and won a game by 11 points, I would say you’re crazy,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I would not think that at all. Our 3-pointers weren’t going down for us, but you know Monika Czinano was. She did a tremendous job for us.”
For every long-range shot that did not fall, everything Czinano put up kept going through the twine as she made her first nine shots from the field as Iowa clung to a 37-36 lead at halftime. Though the Hawkeyes went just 2-for-12 from three in the half, they made 13-of-21 from inside the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes, with Czinano making nine of those shots from two-point range.
The Hawkeyes took a 56-52 lead going into the fourth, but Purdue scored the first five points of the period to briefly take the lead, with the spurt capped off by a Madison Layden three -pointer. On the ensuing possession after Layden’s three, Czinano answered on the other end with a basket while being fouled. Her free throw completed the three-point play to give Iowa a 59-57 lead.
Purdue took a 61-60 lead a few possessions later, but then the Hawkeyes grabbed the lead for good by going on a 9-0 run which began with two Czinano free throws. A layup by Clark, another three-point play from Czinano and a fast break layup by McKenna Warnock that was assisted by Clark gave the Hawkeyes a 69-61 lead, and they were able to cruise to victory from there.
The Hawkeyes will take on No. 3 seed Rutgers tomorrow evening in the quarterfinals.
In the other second round matchup in the evening on Wednesday, No. 7 Michigan State came back from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to see off No. 10 Penn State 75-66. Michigan State’s sophomore class combined for 46 of the team’s 75 points, with Alyza Winston leading all scorers with 23 points. Fellow sophomores Moira Joiner and Taiyier Parks scored 13 and 10 points respectively.
Junior guard Nia Clouden, a First-Team All Big Ten selection, poured in 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Maddie Burke, the Sixth Player of the Year, led the Lady Lions with 22 points.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s games, with the photos taken by Detroit-area photographer Aaron J. Thornton. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 49 pictures in total.