No. 7 Iowa outlasts Purdue 69-58 in B10 quarterfinal

·4 min read

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Caitlin Clark had 12 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead seventh-ranked Iowa past Purdue 69-58 after a sluggish start in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.

Clark, the preseason All-Big Ten Player of the Year and the nation's second-leading scorer, missed 10 of her first 14 shots and picked up a technical foul during a frustrating stretch in the first half before helping the Hawkeyes (24-6) pull away from the feisty Boilermakers.

“They tried different defenses. They tried to slow the game down, because they knew we want to get push in transition, but I think the biggest thing is they played hard until the final buzzer,” said Clark, who had eight rebounds and finished 8 for 18 from the floor.

Monika Czinano scored 14 points and Gabbie Marshall added 11 points for Iowa, the defending conference tournament champion. The second-seeded Hawkeyes, whose black-and-gold-clad fans filled the lower bowl of the arena and helped set a Big Ten Tournament record for the largest quarterfinal crowd at an announced 8,577, will play Maryland in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

“It doesn’t really surprise me by any means. They’re loud. They’re into it. They know what’s happening on the court,” Clark said. “They’re not just here because I was here. They’re here to cheer this team on and watch women’s basketball and be invested in it.”

The Big Ten Tournament came for the first time this year to Target Center in Minneapolis, a two-hour drive from the Iowa border and less than five hours from the Iowa campus.

Jayla Smith had 16 points for the seventh-seeded Boilermakers (19-10), who held the top-scoring team in the nation 19 points below its average. Jenae Terry added six points and 12 rebounds for Purdue, which must wait nine days to find out if it's in the NCAA Tournament.

“You’ve got to be perfect to beat a top-10 team in basically a road game,” coach Katie Gearlds said. “We were pretty solid, just not good enough.”

Clark, the spunky junior guard who has helped elevate her home state's program to new heights, spotted up and drained a 3-pointer from the left wing just 19 seconds into the game.

The preseason Associated Press All-American didn't make another 3 until there was 7:07 left. Clark — wearing neon green Nikes just in case there were any doubt about where she was on the court — pounded her chest in satisfaction after that swish pushed Iowa's lead to 55-42.

The Hawkeyes hurt themselves with some lackadaisical passing, but the Boilermakers defense made it hard on them too. Iowa went 2 for 10 from the field in the second quarter, when Clark was whistled for a foul with 33 seconds left. She was quickly slapped with a technical after contesting the call.

“Sometimes your emotions get you, and that’s what happens,” Clark said. “But I think I responded pretty well.”

Terry missed both foul shots, throwing her arms up in disbelief as the Iowa-dominated crowd howled. Lasha Petree made both free throws for the technical, cutting the lead to 29-25.

Cassidy Hardin, who played in her 141st career game to set the Purdue program record, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter. The second one put the Boilermakers ahead 34-33 midway through the period, but that was the last time they led.

Clark helped the Hawkeyes get their transition game going down the stretch. Thanks in no small part to Marshall, who hit double-digit points for just the third time this season, they were still in decent shape before that. The senior, who's shooting a career-worst 33.3% percent from 3-point range, went 3 for 5 from deep.

“We just never let her doubt herself during the whole year,” coach Lisa Bluder said. "We were never going to tell her to stop shooting the ball."

Purdue, which boosted its NCAA Tournament resume with road wins at Illinois and Ohio State in January, is firmly on the bubble behind the Big Ten's top six teams considered locks to make the field. ESPN pegged the Boilermakers as one of the last four teams with byes in its latest projection.

“I think we showed everyone that Purdue belongs,” Gearlds said.

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