Iowa 79, Purdue 66: paint dominance

Last Sunday’s game against Nebraska seemed like a turning point for Iowa’s season. Finally, shooters were getting hot from three. Finally, Iowa’s offense looked like one that was among the best in the country last year. And finally, Iowa picked up a win over a likely NCAA Tournament team on the road.

But a match does not mark a turning point. Purdue is an improved team from last year, but it’s unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament. A road loss at Purdue would likely undo most of the good that Sunday’s win at Nebraska did for Iowa’s resume and team morale.

Iowa started the game quickly on offense. The Hawks attacked the paint, either off the dribble or on the post entrances, and both worked well most of the time. On the other side, Iowa forced Purdue into hard shots that they largely missed. The Hawkeyes took a 16-6 lead in the quarter. But then Hawkeye’s offense slowed down and Purdue got into gear a bit. The Boilermakers closed the quarter on a run and halved Iowa’s lead to 18-13.

Purdue’s momentum continued in the second quarter, and minutes later they took their first lead of the game at 23-22. The middle part of the quarter was sloppy with both teams turning the ball over or missing shots. Finally, late in the half, Iowa did it again, mostly thanks to Monika Czinano in the paint. Iowa got two late free throws from Caitlin Clark to push the halftime lead to 37-30. Czinano had 17 points and 7 rebounds at the break.

The third quarter was more back and forth, though Iowa got the better of the game largely thanks to Czinano. The Hawks led by no less than 13 in the quarter and took a 55-44 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Hawkeye offense got off to a slow start in the fourth quarter. Then things got worse, as Czinano committed his fourth foul and had to sit out for a while. Iowa’s lead got down to 7, before they started getting stopped on defense and started scoring again offensively. Iowa used that to run and increase the lead to 16 at 70-54. Iowa held the lead from there and won 79-66.

Czinano led Iowa with 27 points and 8 rebounds shooting 12/14. Purdue did not have an answer for her in the message. Clark had 24 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. She was 0/6 of three, but 14/16 on the line. McKenna Warnock had just 6 points, but added 4 assists and 11 rebounds. A box score for the game is here.

Thoughts

Although Iowa won against Nebraska on Sunday, the team’s defensive rebound was a major concern. Nebraska had 23 offensive rebounds in that game and largely outscored Iowa on the glass. Today, Purdue had only nine offensive rebounds, and only two in the first half. Purdue isn’t a particularly big or athletic team, but it was still good to see Iowa bounce back much better than in recent games.

Iowa had its best three-point shooting day of the year against Nebraska, going 11/19 from deep. Today the team had their worst, with a superb 0/15 from three points. In a season full of inconsistencies for Iowa, the three-point shot continues to be the biggest inconsistency of them all. Luckily, the Hawks didn’t need to shoot three-pointers today.

Iowa’s defense never looks particularly good, but in most games this year it’s been better. Last year, the Hawkeyes gave up 80 points per game on average. Today they’ve only given up 66. It’s still not close to the best teams in the country, but it’s much better than last year. And that’s more than enough for a team that can score 79 without making a single 3-pointer.

Following

Iowa returns to action this Sunday, January 16 at 5:00 p.m. CT at home against Nebraska. The match will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Iowa doesn’t usually play the same opponent twice in just over a week, so this game should be an interesting one. Will Iowa’s attack turn out the lights against Nebraska again? Will Nebraska continue to destroy Iowa on the offensive glass? Plug into knowledge.