IOWA CITY — It’s easier to gush after a win, sure. Especially a win like this one.
After leading Iowa to a frantic comeback in the fourth quarter, Caitlin Clark was asked about Ashley Joens.
It became a string of compliments.
“She’s so strong. She bodies people down,” Clark said. “She made some huge shots early.
“She’s a heck of a player. She’s going to be a pro someday.”
Takes one to know one.
Clark and Joens both lived up to their lofty pregame billing Wednesday. They surpassed it, actually.
Joens had 30 points in the first three quarters as Iowa State built a 73-56 lead, and finished with 35. But it was Clark’s time to shine in the clutch. She hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, when she scored 14 of her career-high 34 points, leading Iowa to an 82-80 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“She put them on her back,” Iowa State Coach Bill Fennelly said. “She made some great plays.”
The greatest was the game-winner, a 25-footer with 24 seconds left that gave the Hawkeyes (4-0) the lead for good.
Clark’s first trey came at the 8:48 mark, cutting the deficit to 75-61. Another made it 75-67 with 6:33 left. Another, 75-70 with 5:15 to go.
Then, the finale.
With Joens leading the way, Iowa State (2-3) was great for three quarters. For the Iowa City High product, sweet triumph over her hometown team seemed inevitable.
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“We weren’t playing the same way we had played in the first three quarters,” she said. “We had a lot of turnovers. All of it played a role.”
Joens shot 12 of 25 from the field (5 of 11 from 3-point range) and 6 of 7 from the line. She grabbed 13 rebounds.
Clark was 11 of 23 from the floor, 5 of 13 from deep, 7 of 8 from the stripe. She dished out six assists, but committed seven turnovers.
Both entered the game in the top eight nationally in scoring.
Iowa beat ISU for the fifth straight year and completed a season sweep of its three in-state rivals.
“You always want to be state champs,” said Kate Martin, who hit a crucial 3-pointer to tie the game at 75. “It means a lot to Hawkeye nation. There’s no better feeling.”
Joens, on the other hand, fell to 0-3 against the Hawks. She had an opportunity to tie it, but misfired under pressure under the basket at the end.
“They guarded it pretty well,” she said. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”
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