IOWA CITY — It couldn’t be mere coincidence, could it?
On the day she left her facemask on the shelf, Kate Martin enjoyed a career game. That helped enable the Iowa Hawkeyes to switch from bad to brilliant at halftime of a 96-78 Big Ten women’s basketball victory over Penn State on Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“That was a special game for Kate,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “A special game.”
Martin posted career highs in points (19) and assists (11), and the Hawkeyes (12-6, 8-6 Big Ten) woke up with a start after snoozing through the first half.
Penn State (8-10, 5-9) grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and nailed 10 3-pointers on its way to a 52-41 halftime lead. Frankly, it’s a wonder it was that close.
“Yeah, for sure,” said Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, whose 32 points made it four straight games with 30-plus. “But it wasn’t, ‘Oh, gosh, we’re out of it.’ We’d be fine if we cleaned up the things we were doing wrong.”
Namely, rebounding, which they weren’t doing at all. Penn State outworked the Hawkeyes, 32-14, on the glass in the first half.
“They kicked our butt a little in the first half,” Monika Czinano said.
Then the Hawkeyes came out of the tunnel and kicked back. They kicked back hard, outscoring the Lady Lions by a 55-26 margin the rest of the way.
And Martin was a major part of it.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
The sophomore had suffered a broken nose on two occasions, and had worn a protective mask for more than a month. She played without it Thursday, and played spectacularly.
“I think it’s just a little coincidence,” Martin said. “But I do feel more confident without it for sure.”
Bluder said, “A little secret, I didn’t even realize she didn’t have it on. But I think there’s definitely a correlation there. Not having it on, it’s freeing, right? I know when she was wearing it, her vision was blocked.”
Martin’s final line: 19 points (including 5-of-5 shooting from long distance), five rebounds, 11 assists, no turnovers and no mask.
“My teammates were knocking down shots, and that’s where the assists came from,” Martin said. “And after hitting the first one or two (3-pointers), I gained a lot of confidence.”
Iowa chipped away at the deficit, and took its first lead of the game, 65-64, on Clark’s 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the third quarter. Gabbie Marshall’s trey gave the Hawkeyes a 68-67 edge, and they kept adding to it from there.
Clark hit 12 of 21 shots, including 6 of 11 3-pointers. And that doesn’t count an ah-heck, why-not 35-footer she drilled a few seconds after the final horn.
Czinano added 17 points and eight rebounds, and McKenna Warnock supplied 15 points, six boards and six assists.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Bluder loves balance, and she loves assists. The Hawkeyes gave her plenty to appreciate, with four players in double figures, and a 29-to-8 assist-to-turnover ledger.
All in a game that appeared to be spiraling at halftime.
“Coach has to do what she has to do to get us fired up,” Clark said.
Maddie Burke led Penn State with 20 points. The Lady Lions shot 29 percent in the second half after lighting up the Hawkeyes before intermission.
After the game, Iowa announced a scheduling change. The Hawkeyes’ game at Indiana has been moved from Sunday to March 3 to accommodate a makeup contest Tuesday at Maryland. Tipoff will be at noon Central at College Park, televised on BTN.
IOWA 96, PENN STATE 78
At Iowa City
PENN STATE (78): Anna Camden 8-16 0-0 18, Niya Beverley 5-12 1-1 13, Maddie Burke 7-17 0-0 20, Makenna Marisa 1-11 0-0 2, Shay Hagans 5-13 0-0 13, Johnasia Cash 4-11 1-2 9, Tova Sabel 0-0 0-0 0, Nan Garcia 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 31-83 2-3 78.
IOWA (96): McKenna Warnock 6-9 1-2 15, Monika Czinano 8-11 1-1 17, Kate Martin 7-10 0-0 19, Caitlin Clark 12-21 2-2 32, Gabbie Marshall 2-7 1-1 6, Tomi Taiwo 2-4 0-0 5, Sharon Goodman 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Meyer 0-1 0-0 0, Logan Cook 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 38-65 5-6 96.
Halftime: PSU 52, Iowa 41. 3-pointers: PSU 14-38 (Camden 2-6, Beverley 2-6, Burke 6-15, Marisa 0-5, Hagans 3-5, Garcia 1-1), Iowa 15-28 (Warnock 2-4, Martin 5-5, Clark 6-11, Marshall 1-4, Taiwo 1-3, Meyer 0-1). Team fouls: PSU 9, Iowa 7. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: PSU 48 (Marisa 10), Iowa 31 (Czinano 8). Assists: PSU 20 (Marisa 8), Iowa 29 (Martin 11). Steals: PSU 5 (Marisa 2), Iowa 5 (Martin 2). Turnovers: PSU 11, Iowa 8.
Comments: (319) 368-8857; firstname.lastname@example.org