Clark, Czinano lead No. 6 Iowa women over No. 8 Maryland
By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Caitlin Clark scored 42 points and Monika Czinano had 28 as No. 6 Iowa defeated No. 8 Maryland 96-82 on Thursday night.
Clark, who entered second in the nation in scoring at 27.1 points per game, was 13 of 19 from the field, including 6 for 11 on 3-pointers. She also had seven rebounds and eight assists.
It was the sixth time in her career that Clark scored 40 or more points.
“A once-in-a-lifetime player,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “Just a huge night. She is a special player.”
And it prompted Iowa coach Lisa Bluder to begin campaigning for Clark to be national player of the year.
“I don’t know how you can say that she is not,” Bluder said. “She was unbelievable.”
Clark said she appreciated being mentioned in the conversation.
“I don’t, like, just brush it off. It is something you should be proud of and our program should be proud of, but that’s not the reason you play the game of basketball,” Clark said. “I play it because I love it. When you get wins like this, that’s the most important thing and that’s what makes basketball so fun.”
Diamond Miller led Maryland with 27 points despite being in foul trouble most of the game. Shyanne Sellers had 26 points and Abby Meyers added 15.
Clark scored 18 points in the second half, nine on free throws, but at the beginning of the period she was bent over as she stood near midcourt.
“I thought I was going to throw up,” she said, laughing. “I know, it’s a little (too much information).”
Frese said Clark and Czinano were going to be the focus of Maryland’s defense, but the two combined to shoot 27 of 37 from the field.
“They had monster games,” Frese said.
When Bluder pointed out the shooting statistic, Clark and Czinano laughed and high-fived each other.
Iowa was 37 of 60 (61.7%) for the game.
“I thought we took really good shots as a team,” Clark said. “I didn’t think we forced them.”
Iowa freshman Hannah Stuelke added 13 points as the Hawkeyes (18-4, 10-1 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to seven and stayed in second place in the Big Ten, a half-game behind No. 4 Indiana.
Maryland (18-5, 9-3) had its five-game winning streak snapped and fell into a third-place tie with No. 10 Ohio State. The Terrapins host the Buckeyes on Sunday.
Czinano, who led the nation in field-goal percentage the last two seasons and ranks third this season, was 14 of 18 from the field.
Clark and Czinano combined for 42 first-half points, making 18 of 22 shots, as Iowa took a 56-38 halftime lead.
That start rattled the Terrapins, Frese said, especially in the first quarter, when Maryland was behind 20-8 seven minutes into the game.
“They came out really aggressive,” Frese said. “They crushed us in every area. We allowed the crowd, we allowed a lot of different emotions, to take us out of the game.”
The Hawkeyes, whose biggest lead was 58-38, maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the second half. Maryland got to 85-75 with 4:17 to play, but no closer.
“It’s hard to battle back on the road,” Bluder said. “And so I thought that was an outstanding beginning. Some of Caitlin’s shots were crazy, but we got Monika some real high-percentage shots.”
Maryland: The Terrapins’ attempt at a comeback was thwarted by their poor 3-point shooting. Maryland came in ranked 11th nationally in 3-point percentage but went 2 of 18 in this one, including 1 for 9 in the second half. “I thought they were great looks,” Frese said. “Typically we hit those.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes set an early tone, and other than a small run by Maryland early in the third quarter controlled the game. They kept pace with Indiana atop the conference standings — the teams play Feb. 9 at Indiana. Iowa has won 13 of its last 14 dating to early December. “I think we can get better,” Bluder said. Asked if the Hawkeyes were playing at their highest level, Czinano said: “There’s always another level.”
Maryland: Hosts No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday.
Iowa: At Penn State on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball