Minnesota had a plan to stop Iowa’s No. 25 on Thursday. We talked about it, worked on it in practice. It’s not that the plan didn’t work, it just didn’t.
Caitlin Clark had 35 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and Watertown’s Monica Chinano added 23 and six rebounds as Iowa dealt Minnesota their worst loss of the NCAA program era, 105–49, at Williams Arena.
“Sometimes there are special nights, and tonight was one of them,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Not for the Gophers, who have done nothing good. Sarah Scalia scored 15 points, but Minnesota’s top rebounder was Rose Michaud with four, while Gadiva Hubbard had three assists.
“Obviously it wasn’t our best night,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said.
Minnesota wanted to keep Clark’s body, harass Chinano in the block, and return to the crossing. “Obviously, the things that we talked about for days, we talked for days, and we couldn’t do it,” Whalen said.
Clarke completed her fifth triple-double, and although the Gophers held off Chinano early, she made five of her last six shots and 9 of her 10 free throws. In terms of returning to defense, Iowa scored 23 points in fast breaks and 14 points after Minnesota’s 11 assists.
“This is a really good transitional team. That’s what they do,” Whalen said.
It didn’t help that Iowa rarely had to take the ball out of the basket to start the game; Minnesota shot 33.3 percent (21 of 63) from the field. The Hawks scored 59 percent (40 of 68).
The Gophers fell to 9-10 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten.
Their worst loss in the Big Ten remains a 93–37 loss to Indiana in the 1974–75 season, before the NCAA began sponsoring women’s basketball, and their worst overall loss was 114–53 in Texas on December 4, 1978. But in the NCAA era, Thursday’s Loss Margin surpassed the previous program record of 55, set on November 29, 1986, in a 101-46 loss to fourth-place Auburn and then equaled a 99-44 loss to No. 7 Maryland 1s. March 2020.
It was Iowa’s largest Big Ten game margin in program history and the third largest overall. The Hawkeyes (11-4, 5-1) won four games in a row.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Bluder said. “I really didn’t find anything wrong there.”
Clark, a sophomore quarterback who was on the second All-American team as a freshman, registered his fifth career double-double and surpassed his 25.7 ppg average, the best in the nation. She was 14 of 21 from the floor and 4 of 6 from 3-point range, but finished well short of her January 2 record of 44 against Evansville.
Her 13 rebounds were a game high.
“When I get a rebound and a push in a transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” Clarke said. “Because it’s hard to pick me up and it’s very hard to find my other teammates on the floor – and that’s really when we’re on top.”
A downtime by Gabby Marshall from stealing teammate Kylie Feuerbach gave the Hawkeyes a 97–48 lead with 7 minutes 4 seconds left in the game, and it only got worse from there. Minnesota was 1 of 15 off the field in the fourth quarter.
Asked if she thought her team had given up, Whalen said, “I’m not going to say that. Obviously, the fourth was heavy. I thought we had guys trying to play a few pieces and it just didn’t work out for us. … The guys were still trying to do the right thing.”
Starting point guard Jasmine Powell scored no points for the first time in her college career.
Asked how the Gophers could regroup by Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Michigan State, Scalia replied, “We just need to get (the team) more together.”
“I mean, you can tell we don’t play together and sometimes not quite for each other,” said the younger from Stillwater. “The most important thing is just to get everyone on the same wavelength and at least put in 100 percent effort.”