It wasn’t the start Iowa wanted. Four turnovers in first six minutes of the game, a nasty Caitlin Clark spill that left her limping for a couple minutes, and their defense was giving up open looks from three-point range.
Unlike the Purdue matchup from Wednesday, on Thursday Iowa was able to get momentum and keep it. After trailing 7-5, Iowa went on a 13-2 run to put them in front and ended the first quarter with a 18-9 lead. Gabbie Marshall found her spots on the offensive side of the floor and dropped 10 points including two three-pointers in the opening quarter.
It didn’t stop there.
Marshall finished the first half with 22 points shooting 8-10 from the field including 6-8 from three-point range. Almost outscoring the Rutgers team entirely by herself. The Hawkeyes would hold a 39-25 lead at halftime. Putting up that stat line in a half is difficult to do against anyone, never mind doing it against the top ranked defense in the Big Ten during the regular season.
It was a breath of fresh air for the Hawkeyes after just shooting 3-22 the previous night against Purdue. After a struggle on Wednesday, the law of averages came to play for one of the best offenses in the country.
As expected from any team that’s trailing at the end of the first half, Rutgers came out with energy and cleaned up their offense to start cutting into the Iowa lead to begin the second. Despite the Scarlet Knights improved play, Iowa was able to keep their offensive play to hold Rutgers off and keep the lead hovering around the double digit mark throughout the entirety of the third quarter.
Heading into the final frame the Hawkeyes had been in the driver’s seat since that 13-2 run to end the first quarter. All they had to do was limit mistakes and keep up the intensity on the defensive side of the floor. They were able to do so for the first five minutes, but then the Scarlet Knights put together a run to bring the lead under double digits (69-61) with 3:21 remaining, forcing an Iowa timeout.
From that point on, Iowa’s defense got the stops it needed. The Hawkeyes were able to hold Rutgers to just two points the rest of the way. The 73-63 win advances Iowa to the semifinals of the tournament to take on the Michigan State Spartans.
Gabbie Marshall finished with 27 points (10-15, 7-11) and 7 rebounds, Monika Czinano had 20 points (10-15) and 5 rebounds, and Caitlin Clark put up 21 points (7-15) and 10 assists for Iowa in the win.