Iowa women’s basketball storms back to beat Nebraska to win Big Ten Tournament after slow Caitlin Clark start

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The Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team are Big Ten Tournament champions for the third straight season, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers did not make things easy on Sunday afternoon. 

All eyes were, of course, on Caitlin Clark’s performance in yet another championship game for the conference, especially considering she was named Most Outstanding Player the past two years. 

But Clark had a slow start in this game, going 0-for-9 from three-point territory as Nebraska won the first quarter, 23-17, and went into halftime leading 46-35. 

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Caitlin Clark (22) of the Iowa Hawkeyes defends Callin Hake (14) of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship on March 10, 2024, at Target Center in Minneapolis. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

However, a strong second half from the Hawkeyes got them right back in the game. They tied it up by the end of the third quarter, and after going back and forth in the fourth quarter, this game needed to go to overtime.

Kate Martin played a big role in overtime, assisting on the first basket to Hannah Stuelke to make it 79-77. Then she drained a three-pointer to start pulling away.

But again, Nebraska’s relentless effort made things tough for Iowa. Alexis Marokowski and Natalie Potts both made layups to cut Iowa’s lead to one, and Nebraska retook their lead when Logan Nissley hit a three-pointer of her own, making it 84-82. 

CAITLIN CLARK BREAKS ANOTHER NCAA RECORD, ONE SHE PREVIOUSLY SHARED WITH STEPH CURRY

Martin, though, came right back down the court and drained a three to get the momentum back to the Hawkeyes. Then Clark came through.

With 1:11 left to play in overtime, Nissley again drained a three, but Clark responded with one of her own to keep the Hawkeyes’ lead at 89-87 with less than a minute to play. Clark then forced a turnover with a steal on Jaz Shelley, and hit two free throws once she was fouled. 

After Nissley missed a three with 31 seconds left to play, the Hawkeyes continued to play good defense and hit late free throws to win 94-89. 

Hannah Stuelke layup

Hannah Stuelke (45) of the Iowa Hawkeyes drives to the basket against Alexis Markowski of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship on March 10, 2024, at Target Center in Minneapolis. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Clark finished the game 12 of 29 from the floor, though a poor 5-for-17 from beyond the arc, for 34 points, which included 5 of 6 made free throws. She also had a double-double with 12 assists and seven rebounds, while collecting three steals on the day.

Stuelke provided 25 points and nine rebounds for the Hawkeyes, while Sydney Affolter had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. 

With the Big Ten title in hand, the Hawkeyes – ranked No. 3 in the country – should be receiving a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday next week will solidify their position and their opponent to begin March Madness.

Clark will obviously play a large factor in the Hawkeyes returning to the national championship game, where they fell last season to the LSU Tigers.

Caitlin Clark reacts to play

Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts after a three-point basket in the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship on March 10, 2024, at Target Center in Minneapolis. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

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She continues to build on her all-time scoring record in Division I college basketball, and Iowa will need as much as she can give in the coming weeks.

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