Caitlin Clark’s bad night puts Iowa women’s basketball in same bind as UConn and LSU

No. 2 Iowa was stunned at home by unranked Kansas State with superstar Caitlin Clark enduring one of the worst shooting performances of her life on Thursday.

Following recent losses by preseason No. 1 LSU and No. 2 UConn, Iowa had a chance to cement itself as a frontrunner for the top overall seed at the 2023-24 NCAA Tournament along with undefeated South Carolina. Instead, Iowa became the latest favorite to fall at this early stage of the women’s college basketball season.

Clark led Iowa with 24 points but struggled with efficiency, shooting 9-of-32 overall – including 2-of-16 from deep. It was the first time in the 21-year-old’s career that she missed at least 20 shots in a game, while her 32 attempts were a career high. “That was just not Iowa basketball,” Clark said after the game. “Me, as a point guard, I have to take responsibility for that. I have to get us into our offense a little better. I have to have a little better shot selection.

“There are going to be nights where I don’t shoot the ball really well, and I don’t think I really helped myself getting to the basket and taking advantage of fouls when we needed to. But we can still win games when we don’t shoot the ball well. So there was a lot of other areas we can also improve on.”

Iowa players Hannah Stuelke, Sharon Goodman, and Addison O’Grady were a combined 7-of-12 from the field while the team shot 36.1 percent as a whole. It is clear the Hawkeyes are still searching for their rhythm and best lineup, following the losses of last season’s veterans Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock.

The clash with Kansas State, which snapped Iowa’s three-game winning run to open the season, was the first time since Clark arrived for the 2020-21 season that the Hawkeyes were held to under 60 points. While both Clark and head coach Lisa Bluder credited the opposition defense, they were clearly unhappy with their performance.

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Iowa star Caitlin Clark is renowned for her shooting ability, but she was left wanting on Thursday
Iowa star Caitlin Clark is renowned for her shooting ability, but she was left wanting on Thursday 

“We need more people to be able to contribute, and that’s on me to get them involved in the game,” Clark said. “Especially on nights where I might not shoot the ball as great. Rely on my teammates, get them open, get them a clean look.”

She added: “It’s certainly one we can learn from and probably taught us a lot of lessons of how we can get better.”

Despite also falling to Kansas State last year, Iowa enjoyed a stellar run to the national championship game to finish as the NCAA runners-up. Clark was named the National Player of the Year, rising to basketball superstardom. The 3-1 Hawkeyes will hope she can get back on track soon.

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