Diamond Johnson and Saniya Rivers each scored 22 points to help No. 12 North Carolina State overcome a 45-point effort from Caitlin Clark and beat No. 10 Iowa 94-81 in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game on Thursday night.
Johnson and Rivers led a balanced scoring night for the Wolfpack (7-1), who had five players score in double figures.
“Forty-five, that’s insane,” Rivers said of Clark’s night. “I’m glad we came together as a team. I think we had five in double figures. You can’t win it alone. So I’m glad we were the better team tonight.”
Clark, who came into the game tied for second in the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game, scored the Hawkeyes’ first nine points of the game, and had the first 11 points of the fourth quarter as Iowa tried to rally from a 13-point deficit.
The preseason All-American was 16 of 28 from the field, 5 of 13 in 3-pointers. She finished one point off her career high.
“I haven’t seen much like that,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “Some of those shots, I couldn’t believe them.”
But Clark had little offensive help, as McKenna Warnock was the only other Hawkeye to score in double figures with 15 points. Kate Martin and Hannah Stuelke each had seven points.
“I think any time I score 40 points, we lose,” said Clark, who had her career high of 46 points in a loss at Michigan last season. “We scored points, but we didn’t get stops.”
N.C. State had a balanced offense with Jakia Brown-Turner adding 17 points. Jada Boyd had 12 points and Camille Hobby had 10. The Wolfpack shot 57.1% from the field for the game, including 61.1% in the fourth quarter to hold off the Hawkeyes (5-3).
N.C. State outscored Iowa 31-28 in the fourth quarter, answering every threat from the Hawkeyes.
“I’ll be honest, we needed to see that,” Moore said of how his team responded in the fourth quarter. “I kept waiting. They would make a run, (Clark) would make an unbelievable shot, the crowd’s into it, and I was like, ‘Oh, here we go.’ Then one of our kids would make a shot.”
Johnson and Rivers combined to shoot 17 of 29 from the field, including 5 of 7 in 3-pointers.
Rivers, who hadn’t made a 3-pointer in six attempts this season, was 3 of 4 from behind the arc in this game on her way to a career high in scoring.
“I think this game was a big confidence boost for me,” said Rivers, a transfer from South Carolina.
The Wolfpack had 46 points inside, a number that bothered Iowa coach Lisa Bluder.
“I was very disappointed with our defensive effort,” Bluder said. “We usually own the paint. We were never in help position, and we paid the price for it.”
“We didn’t have a sense of urgency,” Warnock said. “There was just a weird dullness on defense.”
N.C. State also had 31 points off the bench, compared to nine for the Hawkeyes.
The two teams are going to be passing each other in the rankings next week — the Wolfpack on the way up, the Hawkeyes on the way down after starting the season in the top five.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack showed balance and patience on offense. Rivers was 9 of 11 from the field, while Johnson was 8 of 12. The Wolfpack got enough defensive stops — they held the Hawkeyes to 44.8% shooting.
Iowa: Clark was Iowa’s only scoring threat during the game — center Monika Czinano, who led the nation in field-goal percentage last season, got only one shot in the first half and finished with five points on just 2 of 4 shooting. “I don’t know why we couldn’t get her the ball tonight,” Bluder said. “It was maddening.”
NC State: At Georgia on Monday.
Iowa: At Wisconsin on Sunday.