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akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

INDIANAPOLIS — The superlatives have been exhausted to describe Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark, the most dynamic player in women’s college basketball. All there is now to see how much more history the sophomore sensation can make — like something similar to what she did this evening to lead the Hawkeyes one step away from a conference championship.

When all eyes are on Clark, like they were in today’s Big Ten Women’s Tournament semifinals, the guard with “in-the-gym range” comes through with some breathtaking performances, and in tonight’s win by the second-seeded Hawkeyes over No. 6 Nebraska, Clark erupted for 41 points and nine assists as Iowa won by a comfortable 83-66 margin. In the process, Clark became just the third player in the history of the tournament to score at least 40 points in a game, joining former Hawkeye great Megan Gustafsson (two times) and Ohio State star Kelsey Mitchell.

Not everything was perfect for Clark, who did have nine turnovers in the contest and just three assists, but things went almost perfect for the Hawkeyes in the third quarter when they made an astounding 75 percent of their shots (12-for-16) in the third quarter to turn a slender three-point halftime lead to a 66-53 bulge heading into the fourth.

Those in the know know Clark is far from a one-person band, and second leading scorer Monika Czinano once again made her presence felt in the paint with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Defensive whiz KAte Martin added eight points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots, one night after making all five shots from the field and all five three throws in a 15-point second half during the Hawkeyes’ victory over Northwestern in the quarterfinals on Friday night.

While Iowa advances to the title game and looks for its first Big Ten Tournament championship in four years, the Indiana Hoosiers will line up across from the Hawkeyes looking for their first title in 20 years. The No. 5 seed Hoosiers pulled off their second seed upset of the tournament, taking down the top-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes 70-62 to advance to the Big Ten final for the first time since they won the tournament in 2002 in Indianapolis. The key to the Hoosiers’ success was their perimeter defense, as it held the Buckeyes to 4-for-21 shooting from three-point range.

Four of the five starters for the Hoosiers played at least 37 minutes, and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary led that quartet with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s semifinal 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 29 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big Ten ConferenceIndiana HoosiersIowa HawkeyesNebraska CornhuskersOhio State Buckeyeswomen's college basketball

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