When it comes to playing the Iowa Hawkeyes, it boils down to this:
Can you keep them in where Monika Czinano roams? And can you beat Caitlin Clark, the highest scoring player in Division I women’s basketball, whose game starts on the outside?
On Thursday in Williams Arena, the Gophers could not and would not.
The result was a 105-49 loss to the 25e-ranked Hawkeyes (11-4, 5-1 in the Big Ten Conference), who won their fourth consecutive conference game.
It was Minnesota’s worst loss in more than three seasons under coach Lindsay Whalen, and equated to the second-largest loss in the program’s history. Minnesota was defeated 85-36 after the first quarter.
Inside? Czinano, who played on her birthday, worked on the paint, walked on the floor, made her free throws, scored 23 points.
But Clark? She’s the one who had the big game. Iowa coach Lisa Bluder left her in the game until 4:31 was left in play and Iowa led with 54. Scoring on picks, scoring the dribble, scoring, period, she had a 35 point, 13 rebound, 11 assist triple double. She made 14 of 21 shots, four of six three-pointers.
Gabbie Marshall added 16 points for Iowa, which had a 54-20 lead in points in the paint, a 14-6 lead in points in turnover and a 23-3 lead at the quick break.
The Hawkeyes shot 61 percent as Clark’s final went to the bench.
Sara Scalia (15 points) was the only Gophers player in double digits. MInneosta got only 21 runs at 10-for-31 from the other four starters.
With the Gophers starting the game 1-for-8 with a turnover, Iowa quickly built a 13-2 lead with the game barely 4 minutes old.
That lead grew to 14 with another 3:10 in the quarter when Tomi Taiwo cornered with three-pointers. At that point it was 20-6.
But the Gophers found some life. Minnesota got some stops on the defensive side and ended the quarter with a 7-0 run, two points from Hubbard, two from Alexia Smith and a three-pointer at the end of the quarter, from the corner, by Smith.
In the second quarter, the Gophers turned the ball just once, making nine of their 16 shots. And they were downstairs at 1 pm.
The Gophers struggled to slow Clark down. And by extension Iowa, which scored 27 points in the second quarter and built a 47-34 lead.
Clark made five of the seven shots, all of her three three-pointers, and scored 15 of those 27 points. Iowa went 4-for-4 on three in the quarter, scoring 12 runs from outside the arc and six in the paint.
Minnesota came in five — and had the ball — early in the third quarter. But Minnesota couldn’t keep up with the attack in Iowa. The Hawkeyes led by a whopping 16 at the end of the quarter.
It didn’t get any better. The Gophers made just five of 16 shots in the third quarter.
Consistently beating the Gophers across the floor, getting 13 out of 18 shots. Iowa got everything it wanted in the quarter.
By the time it was over, Minnesota was trailing 84-46 after an out-score of 37-12 in the third quarter, 64-33 since the first quarter.