STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)Lisa Bluder loves pretty basketball and Iowa’s coach got her fill of highlights on Sunday.
The No. 6 Hawkeyes – decked out in pink uniforms with white lettering – transitioned with ease, deftly set each other up for basket after basket and made stop after stop to rout Penn State 95-51 on Sunday.
Hawkeye star Caitlin Clark was at the center of Iowa’s eighth straight win.
The junior had 23 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for her ninth career triple-double.
”There were some beautiful passes,” Bluder said. ”I love it when we pass the ball so well and we transition so well and we did a lot of that today.”
Enough that the result wasn’t in doubt after one quarter.
Clark scored 11 of her points in the first half while Penn State’s best shooters went cold early.
Taniyah Thompson led Penn State (13-11, 4-9) with 11 points while Leilani Kapinus had 10. But Kapinus, Makenna Marisa and Shay Ciezki, all averaging in double figures for Penn State this season, combined to go just 2 for 15 from the floor in the first quarter, when Iowa (19-4, 11-1 Big Ten) took control.
The two teams, both clad in pink-and-white uniforms for breast cancer awareness, traded baskets until Iowa took the lead for good. As Penn State’s shooters clanked misses off the rim, the Hawkeyes heated up and used a 12-2 run over the final 6:27 of the first quarter to pull ahead 19-9.
Clark chipped in six points during that run, then fueled her teammates with sharp passes over her head and behind her back in the second. Iowa’s leading scorer set up six buckets and drained a 3-pointer off a fast-break to help the Hawkeyes take a 45-22 lead into halftime.
”She’s at the top of everyone’s scouting report,” Marisa said. ”She makes the right read, she rebounds, she kind of does it all and I have a lot of respect for her.”
Monika Czinano scored 14 points and Kate Martin added 11 for the Hawkeyes, who controlled the paint and poured on points in a lopsided second half.
Clark’s 3-pointer put Iowa up by 23, a lead it would extend by as many as 49 in the second half.
Iowa outclassed Penn State inside all afternoon. The Hawkeyes outscored the Lady Lions 58-18 in the paint and outrebounded them 51-24, with 43 coming on the defensive glass.
No Hawkeye was better in the paint than Czinano, who buried pinpoint feeds from Clark all game. Many of them came off fast-breaks, too.
”When you have 28 assists on 39 baskets, that’s pretty special,” Bluder said.
Clark has hit double figures in an NCAA-best 75 straight games and in all but one game ever.
That was back on Jan. 9, 2021, when she played 32 minutes against Northwestern and was held to just eight points in a 77-67 loss.
Bluder called her ”a generational player” afterward. Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger agreed.
”Caitlin Clark is a once-in-a-generation player,” Kieger said. ”I’ve watched her since she was probably in sixth grade and every time you see her play, it seems like she gets better and better.”
Penn State fell to 0-5 against AP Top 25 teams this season.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes won their eighth straight in the series, dating back to 2018. Three of Iowa’s next four opponents are a combined 10-23 in Big Ten play, but two games against No. 4 Indiana remain, along with a trip to No. 8 Maryland in the final two regular-season games.
Penn State: The Lady Lions are at their best when their shooters are clicking. It didn’t happen in this one. They made just eight of their first 37 shots.
Iowa: Visits No. 4 Indiana on Thursday.
Penn State: Visits Michigan State on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25