Hawkeye Women Defeat Nebraska to Secure Third Straight Big Ten Championship

All eyes were on Minneapolis today as the Hawkeyes women’s basketball team took on Nebraska in the Big 10 Tournament Championship game. Fans lined up before 6am to snag their seats for the 11am game. The air was festive but tense as both teams arrived in the building on the blue Big 10 carpet to cheers through the main arena lobby at the Target Center. Nebraska comes in hot off their win against Maryland and Iowa comes in after defeating Michigan. The arena was once again filled with enthusiastic black and gold with a smattering of red mixed in today. Fans knew this would be a hard-fought battle with both teams possessing a standout athlete. Iowa with Clark and Nebraska with Shelley. Both teams also come in with a variety if players that are reliable shooters from the field.

The Hawks struggled in the first with shots just not falling. Both teams took about the same amount of shots but Nebraska hit 47% to the Hawks 33%. Stuelke seemed back at full force  after an ankle roll during yesterday’s  game. She led the Hawkeyes as the  leading scorer of the quarter with 5. The Hawks did lead early in the first, but Nebraska came back and tied it up when a foul by Clark put Nebraska at the line where they hit the first and rebounded the second for a 3 point shot putting them up by 3. The Hawks continued to struggle throughout the period with shot accuracy which had Clark shaking her head in disbelief. Nebraska led by up to 10 one point but a couple three point plays by the Hawks put the Q1 ending score at 23-17 Nebraska.

 

 

The struggles continued for Iowa in the second quarter. The Hawks mounted a small comeback cutting the Nebraska lead to just 3 points halfway through the period but the streak of misses continued and Nebraska was relentless. The Hawks continued to get rebounds and take shots but just couldn’t hit the net. Clark was visibly frustrated throughout the quarter and Nebraska poured some fuel on that frustration by pressing her at full court. Stuelke put up another 6 points putting her in the teams leading scoring spot with 11 for the half. Clark shot 1 for 5 in the period. The team left the court visibly upset and are hoping to regroup in the locker room to stage a second half comeback being down 35-46.

The Hawks showed their resilience with a comeback in the third. There was nothing easy about it and the period was incredibly physical. The Hawks outscored Nebraska 23-12 in the third ending the quarter tied at 58 (including a brief lead. Clark checked back into the game with some shots finally falling. Her confidence was back with and early 2 points followed by a 3 pointer on the third possession which lit the crowd up. Nabraska’s Shelley immediately responded with one of her own and the two teams continued to battle the rest of the period. Clark put up 12 points in the third and the defense came alive with 15 rebounds to Nebraska’s 8 putting the Hawks back in the game.

The fourth quarter was anything but boring and the teams battled neck and neck. A pair of 3s put Nebraska back in the lead 65-69. Iowa was really not getting rebounds or second chance shots causing Nebraska to pull to a 6 point lead with 3 minutes to play. Multiple Hawks got it in the net and eventually Nebraska shot an airball followed by an offensive foul giving Iowa the chance to move forward. Clark tied it up with 2 points making it 77-77 with under 30 seconds to go. Nebraska’s Shelley dribbled the clock down to under 10 but couldn’t get a shot sending the championship game into overtime.

Iowa opened overtime strong with Stuelke and Martin getting a 5 point lead for the Hawks. Shots were exchanged back and forth with Nebraska briefly leading 86-87 until Clark nailed a 3. Clark also had a steal and Marshall a block putting the fans into a frenzy. The Hawks were put to the foul line 3 times and Marshall blocked with 5.7 seconds left ending Nebraska’s chances with a 94-89 Hawks victory! Despite a slow start Clark ends with 34 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists and is the game leading scorer. This one was one for the record books.

Big 10 Tournament Coverage Sponsored by Muscatine Lumber

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