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Surging Hawkeyes try to avoid the trap door Sunday at Penn State
No. 6 Iowa blistered the Lady Lions, 108-67, Jan. 14 at Carver
IOWA CITY — As far as “trap games” go, they don’t come much trappier than this.
The Iowa women’s basketball team has a top-10 triumph (96-82 over Maryland on Thursday) in its rearview mirror.
Another top-10 encounter (next Thursday at Indiana) is on the horizon.
The task at hand is a road test against Penn State, which the Hawkeyes blasted 108-67 on Jan. 14. Tipoff is 11 a.m. (CT) Sunday at Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
Yeah, that’s trappy. To a “T.”
“Obviously, going to Penn State, I worry about a little bit of a letdown,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said Friday, about 12 hours after the Hawkeyes polished off Maryland.
“(Thursday), we had a quality win against a top-10 opponent, and we go on the road to play Penn State, which we really, really handled at our place.
“You worry about the players thinking the same thing is going to happen, and not being completely focused.”
Fortunately for Bluder, the Hawkeyes couldn’t be more mature. The starting lineup consists of four seniors (including fifth-year player Monika Czinano), plus junior All-American Caitlin Clark.
They get it.
And they’re rolling: No. 6 Iowa (18-4 overall, 10-1 Big Ten) has won seven in a row, 13 of its last 14.
“When our offense flows like this, we’re pretty good,” Clark said.
When their offense flows like this, if you’re an opponent, what do you do? Maryland Coach Brenda Frese was presented with that dilemma Thursday.
“When they run the court as their bigs do, it gives you fits,” Frese said. “Their shooters can spread you out. Do you take their shooters? Do you take their rim run?”
Some teams can’t take either. Penn State (13-10, 4-8) sure didn’t, the first time around.
Of course, Clark is the engineer of the locomotive, which leads the nation in scoring at 87.7 points per game. Clark is second individually in both scoring (27.8 points per game) and assists (7.9 per contest).
Iowa fans chafed when Clark was edged for 2022 national-player-of-the-year honors by Aliyah Boston of national-champion South Carolina. This year, Clark’s main competition probably lies with Angel Reese (23.4 points, 15.5 rebounds per game for undefeated LSU).
Friday, Bluder doubled down on Clark’s candidacy.
“Nobody can do what she can do, nobody in the country,” Bluder said. “How she impacts the game, not only with her points, but also her assists, that sets her apart from everybody else.”
McKenna Warnock missed two games after suffering a rib-cage injury at Michigan State on Jan. 18. She returned Thursday, started and played 27 minutes.
“That was probably more minutes than I thought she would play,” Bluder said. “I didn’t know until shootaround; that’s when I decided that she would start the game.”
“She was pretty sore after the game. I think she’ll play (Sunday), but I don’t think she’ll be full speed.”