LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)No opponent brings out the best in Caitlin Clark more than Nebraska.
The Iowa star scored 30 points, Monika Czinano added 20 and the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes pulled away in the second half for an 80-60 win over the Cornhuskers on Saturday.
Clark has never had fewer than 30 in any of her seven games against Nebraska, and she and Czinano led the way again in Iowa’s eighth straight win in the series.
The game drew a Nebraska record crowd of 14,289, with many in the building to see a national player of the year candidate in Clark.
”I like coming here,” Clark said. ”I think they support women’s basketball well here and I love playing in front of a big crowd. I have a lot of family from the state of Nebraska who are always here supporting us. We play them pretty well every time.”
The Hawkeyes (22-5, 14-2) moved a game behind Big Ten-leading Indiana with two regular-season games left.
Jaz Shelley had 19 points and nine rebounds and Alexis Markowski had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Cornhuskers (14-13, 6-10), who lost their fourth straight.
Clark and Czinano combined for 15 of the Hawkeyes’ 21 points in the third quarter, when they stretched their 40-33 halftime lead to 61-47.
”Teams really have to pick their poison when they play us,” Czinano said. ”They can focus on playing the post and maybe my points are limited, but my teammates are so open for shots or vice versa. Throughout the whole game they were kind of picking and choosing which one they wanted to do, and we were doing a good job of realizing that and reading it.”
Clark’s layup midway through the fourth quarter gave her 30 points, then she took a seat for the rest of the game while her teammates built the lead to as many as 29 points.
Clark also had five rebounds and eight assists, with five leading to baskets by Czinano. Clark leads the country with 14 games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists.
In her seven games against Nebraska, Clark is averaging 34.3 points, 7.9 assists and 8.9 rebounds. She’s shooting 41.6% on 3-pointers (27 of 65) after making 4 of 10 on Saturday.
”She’s done the same thing against everybody she goes up against,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said. ”She’s been a pretty special talent that you don’t run across very often and she has the mentality to match, and that’s tough to stop.”
Iowa was up 21-14 after the first quarter but had its momentum stall early in the second. Shelley’s deep 3 got the Huskers within 29-26, and after she and Clark traded layups, Isabelle Bourne banked in a 3 to tie it 31-all.
The Hawkeyes closed the half on a 9-2 spurt with Clark leading the way. She snaked through the lane for a layup, left Maddie Krull on the floor with a slick move on her way to another layin, sank a nearly 30-foot shot from the halfcourt logo and then threaded a pass to Czinano in the paint for an easy basket.
”You come into someplace and they have their attendance record and you win by 20, that’s a good road win,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ”We just talk about how we have to be really locked in on the road. We’ve had some good road wins at Ohio State, at Michigan. For us, this is just another one of them.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes survived a potential trap game that came between two blowout wins and a Tuesday trip to No. 8 Maryland. Plus, they found out Thursday ESPN’s College Gameday show would be televised from Carver-Hawkeye Arena before next Sunday’s showdown with No. 2 Indiana.
Nebraska: The Huskers’ hopes for a second straight NCAA Tournament bid are in peril unless they can make a strong run in the Big Ten Tournament.
BARK AT CLARK
Clark hit nothing with a turnaround jumper in the lane in the first quarter, briefly making her a target for heckling.
The ”air ball” chant was to be expected, but the student section continued to razz her on Iowa’s next possession, serenading her with ”air ball” when she touched the ball and again when she shot a pair of free throws, which she made.
Iowa: visits No. 8 Maryland for a likely top-10 showdown Tuesday.
Nebraska: visits Illinois on Wednesday looking to avenge its loss to the Illini two weeks ago.
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