Czinano, Clark lead No. 21 Iowa over No. 10 Indiana, 88-82
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa coach Lisa Bluder knew it was time to go to Monika Czinano.
“She’s a walking bucket,” Bluder said.
Czinano scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds, and Caitlin Clark added 29 points, as the 21st-ranked Hawkeyes defeated No. 10 Indiana 88-82 on Monday night.
Czinano, third in the nation in field-goal percentage, was 13 of 17 from the field. She had nine points in Iowa’s 11-0 fourth-quarter run that gave the Hawkeyes a 76-70 lead.
“It’s awesome when she’s playing like that and dominating,” Bluder said.
Czinano took advantage of Indiana’s foul trouble - forwards Mackenzie Holmes and Kiandra Browne were two of the three Hoosiers who fouled out - and the screens set by her teammates to get open inside.
“We set a lot of pin-down screens, and that was something we talked about (in the second half),” Czinano said. “I was just really able to use those to my advantage. And things went in the hoop.”
“She scores so quick,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “She gets you deep. She’s talented, there’s no doubt about it. The fact that she can get you so deep is such a problem inside the halo. There’s not a whole lot you can do because of her length and how accurate she is at the rim.”
It was the second time in three days the Hawkeyes (18-7, 12-4 Big Ten) defeated the Hoosiers (19-6, 11-4), a schedule change caused by the postponement of the Jan. 23 game at Iowa because of COVID-19 issues within the Hoosiers.
Clark, the nation’s leading scorer at 26.8 points per game, was 9 of 20 from the field, but went 9 of 9 in free throws. She also had eight rebounds and eight assists.
Iowa won 96-91 on Saturday, leading by as much as 24 points in the third quarter before the Hoosiers scored 42 fourth-quarter points to make the game close.
The Hoosiers carried that momentum into this game. Indiana built a 52-41 halftime lead, turning 14 Iowa turnovers into 23 points. Iowa had seven turnovers during a 14-0 run that gave the Hoosiers a 48-36 lead with 2:34 to play in the second quarter.
“Our first half, we struggled with valuing the ball,” Bluder said. “It’s hard to win games when you’re doing that.”
The Hawkeyes had just seven turnovers in the second half, just two in the fourth quarter.
“We ran our offense,” Clark said. “We weren’t trying to force things. If we were going to win the game, we had to change the turnover part of it.”
It was the fifth game in 10 days for the Hoosiers, who had three games postponed in January because of the COVID-19 issues.
“We’ve had four one-day preps,” Moren said. “This league is too good to only be able to have the one-day preps. But it’s the cards we’ve been dealt, and we’re trying to make the most of them.”
McKenna Warnock added 16 points for the Hawkeyes.
Grace Berger led Indiana with 22 points. Nicole Cardano-Hillary had 15 points. Holmes had 13 points. Ali Patberg and Chloe Moore-McNeil had 11.
Czinano announced late Sunday that she would return next season, taking advantage of the extra season granted by the NCAA last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The return of Czinano, an All-Big Ten first-team selection last season, means all five starters for the Hawkeyes are expected back next season.
“I’ve known this for a while now,” Czinano said. “It’s nice to let everyone else in on it.”
The Hawkeyes moved into a second-place tie with Ohio State and Maryland, a half-game behind Big Ten leader Michigan. Iowa closes the season at home against Michigan on Sunday.
“My thoughts are, `Yay,”’ Bluder said. “We’ve put ourselves into position to play for something in the last week, and that’s what you want. It’s not going to be easy.”
The Hoosiers fell into fifth place, a game out of first place. They will play two less games in the conference because of the three postponements.
“I’m disappointed,” Moren said. “I want them to be disappointed, and I know we are. But we are not going to be discouraged by any of this.”
The Hoosiers nearly fell out of the top 10, dropping five spots when Monday’s rankings were released. Iowa has a chance to move into the top 20 with two games later in the week.
Indiana: At No. 13 Maryland on Friday.
Iowa: At Rutgers on Thursday.