Iowa women’s basketball beats Maryland to reach the Big Ten final

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MINNEAPOLIS — Despite the intensity of the two regular-season matches at Iowa and Maryland, one had to see drama was on the agenda going into the third round.

Oh man, there was a lot.

Two members of the college basketball team traded shots on the floor of Target Center, and emotions flowed on both ends with a spot in the Big Ten Tournament game at stake and potentially #1 March Madness. The Hawkeyes and Terps need no introductions, though. particular After meeting him last week in a match that Lisa Bluder’s team hopes to forget.

This was Ewa’s show, though.

A reaction awaits every time Maryland takes a second-half push to tie or advance The #2-ranked Hawkeyes entered Sunday’s title game with an 89-84 semifinal victory Saturday in Minneapolis. The win propelled Iowa State (25-6) to its third straight Big Ten Tournament title game, where it will take on fourth seed Ohio State (25-6) at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Buckeyes knocked out regular season champion Indiana in the other semifinal game.

Bluder largely took credit for last Tuesday’s 96-68 loss at Maryland, saying she hadn’t prepared the Hawkeyes for defensive Terps and box-and-1 adjustments. On that day, Iowa rallied to an eight-point second quarter and spent the entire second half chasing an unreachable deficit.

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“I’m not going to let that happen again,” Bluder said.

Iowa responded with its most distributed offensive effort of the season. The Hawkeyes’ entire starting lineup reached double figures with all of Iowa’s points counted, forcing Maryland (25-6) to unsuccessfully chase the entire road. The Hawkeyes’ second-half lead never reached double digits, yet the Terps only led once after halftime.

When that moment finally came with 2:19 left, all Iowa did was get up and give their biggest answer of the day.

After McKenna Warnock fended off a pivotal offensive rebound from a long miss by Caitlin Clark, Gabbie Marshall’s last game-high triple-double of seven bunted home to hand the Hawkeyes the lead for good, at 82-79 with 1:44 remaining. While Maryland made it an even more nervous end than Iowa wanted—climbing within three with a last-minute possession—Warnock eventually shut things down with four free throws in the final 25 seconds.

It was Marshall’s late-season comeback — particularly in Minneapolis, where she paired Saturday’s 21-point outing with Friday’s 11-point showing for her first consecutive double-digit scoring attempts of the season. Emotion and pride poured out of the senior guard as she finished 7-for-13 from deep, making Marshall a 24-for-43 (56%) outsider since the start of February.

“It’s a long season,” Marshall said, “and you’ll have ups and downs. You’ll have adversity. But just having the team we have is the veteran team, we’ve been through it. We’ve been here before. We’re very close and on the field, and I think that really helps.”

“It’s a long game. They’re going to keep running. We’re going to keep running. And we just have to stick together. Our circle is tight, just because we’ve been playing together for so long. It helps a lot in March.”

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And it showed all the while Iowa built a huge first-half advantage that came to 12, only to see the Terps run back in the final 20 minutes. Unable to completely dispose of Maryland, the Hawkeyes could not afford the focus or intensity against such a powerful foe. Balanced offensive efforts prevented Maryland from finding the same defensive success they had at College Park.

The Hockeys then pushed their lead to six with 45 seconds left, only for Maryland to face five in a row to make for an even more tense finish than Hockey had envisioned.

Clark’s 22 hits still lead Iowa, with nine of them hitting her first three points. Eighteen of Warnock’s 21 came in the second half. Kate Martin nearly entered Clark’s triple-zone with ten points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Monica Csinano blocked Maryland’s 15 points and eight rebounds in a full commitment for the Hawkeyes’ downtown attendance that included 40 3-point attempts in the Big Ten Tournament.

“This is very important,” Warnock said. “We’ve played three games in three days – so someone might have a night off one night – and to know we have four or five other girls who can step up, it’s honestly a dream to be on a team like that.”

There weren’t many bad tastes Iowa needed to overcome this season, but the Maryland debacle was certainly one of them. For the Hawkeyes to successfully take advantage of another Terrapin opportunity – and do so offensively – it should provide additional confidence that any problem can be rectified quickly.

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Now comes another date with the Buckeyes, which Iowa sent to a tailspin from February that they’re only now recovering from. The Hawkeyes knocked out Ohio State on January 23 with an 11-point victory on the road, but that came with Buckeyes star Jacy Sheldon on the sidelines.

Another opportunity for a resounding presentation before the real action begins in March. After Saturday, Iowa looks set to complete its turn in Minneapolis.

Darjan Southard is a popular sports reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and Email him at [email protected].

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