No. 7 Iowa outlasts Purdue 69-58 in Big Ten quarterfinal

Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 7:58 PM CST
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Caitlin Clark had 12 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead seventh-ranked Iowa past Purdue 69-58 after a sluggish start in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night.

Clark, the preseason All-Big Ten Player of the Year and the nation’s second-leading scorer, missed 10 of her first 14 shots and picked up a technical foul during a frustrating stretch in the first half before helping the Hawkeyes (24-6) pull away.

Clark, who had eight rebounds and four assists, finished 8 for 18 from the floor.

Monika Czinano scored 14 points and Gabbie Marshall added 11 points for Iowa, the defending conference tournament champion. The second-seeded Hawkeyes, whose black-and-gold-clad fans filled the lower bowl of the arena, will play in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

The Big Ten Tournament came for the first time this year to Target Center in Minneapolis, a two-hour drive from the Iowa border and less than five hours from the Iowa campus.

Jayla Smith had 16 points for the seventh-seeded Boilermakers (19-10), who held the top-scoring team in the nation 19 points below its average. Jenae Terry added six points and 12 rebounds for Purdue, which must wait nine days to find out if it’s in the NCAA Tournament.

Clark, the spunky and smooth junior guard who has helped elevate her home state’s program to new heights, calmly spotted up and drained a 3-pointer from the left wing just 19 seconds into the game.

That wasn’t much of a tone-setter, because the preseason Associated Press All-American didn’t make another shot from deep until there was 7:07 left. Clark — wearing neon green Nikes just in case there were any doubt about where she was on the court — pounded her chest in satisfaction after that swish pushed Iowa’s lead back to 55-42.

Marshall, who hit double-digit points for just the third time this season, was the only one who had her touch from long range. The Hawkeyes hurt themselves with some lackadaisical passing, but the Boilermakers defense made it hard on them. Clark was whistled for a foul with 33 seconds left in the second quarter, a call she quickly contested and was just as quickly slapped with a technical.

Terry missed both foul shots, throwing her arms up in disbelief as the Iowa-dominated crowd howled. Lasha Petree made both free throws for the technical, cutting the lead to 29-25.

Cassidy Hardin, who played in her 141st career game to set the Purdue program record, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter. The second one put the Boilermakers ahead 34-33 midway through the period, but that was the last time they led.

Purdue, which boosted its NCAA Tournament resume with road wins at Illinois and Ohio State in January, is firmly on the bubble behind the Big Ten’s top six teams considered locks to make the field. ESPN pegged the Boilermakers as one of the last four teams with byes in its latest projection.