Iowa holds off West Virginia as Hawkeyes advance to Sweet 16 Caitlin Clark drops 32 points

Iowa holds off West Virginia as Hawkeyes advance to Sweet 16 Caitlin Clark drops 32 points
Iowa holds off West Virginia as Hawkeyes advance to Sweet 16 Caitlin Clark drops 32 points

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The No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament are headed back to the Sweet 16, but it was no easy task against the No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Hawkeyes defeated the Mountaineers, 64-54, but they had to scratch and claw their way to victory in surprising fashion.

It was a slow start for Iowa after falling behind 11-5 early in the first quarter, but they were able to pull away with a 20-15 lead.

However, a very lackluster second quarter from both teams ended with the halftime score 26-24 in Iowa’s favor.

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Hannah Stülke shoots

Hannah Stuelke #45 of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots the ball over Jayla Hemingway #00 of the West Virginia Mountaneers during the second round of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 25, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Many saw this game as a candidate for failure when looking at the schedule, but the second half would prove the Mountaineers to be a relentless opponent, even if the Hawkeyes walked away victorious.

It looked like Iowa was done with the plays as the third quarter ended with a 48-38 lead. But that game was tied with just 5:18 left in the fourth quarter after Jayla Hemingway knocked down a 3-pointer to cap a 10-0 run.

WEST VIRGINIA COACH LOWERS CAITLIN CLARK’S TRASH AS TEAMS MEET

The Hawkeyes finally got on the board in the fourth when Sydney Affolter hit both of her free throws to regain the lead. But the scoreboard would go back and forth as West Virginia struggled to tie things up again before Iowa continued to try to pull away.

That finally happened for the Hawkeyes when Affolter also made a free throw to go up by three points and West Virginia began to struggle from the field. Hemingway and JJ Quinerly couldn’t knock down threes in hopes of taking a late lead.

Caitlin Clark dribbles

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark #22 drives to the basket during the first half against West Virginia Mountaineers guard Jordan Harrison #10 during their second round game in the 2024 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the 25 March 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

As a result, the Mountaineers were forced to foul to keep their chances alive, but they were sending Caitlin Clark, the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader, to the free throw line. Clark knocked down her free throw attempts in the final minute and finished with a game-high 32 points. Hannah Stuelke also secured her final penalty kicks to clinch the victory and breathe a sigh of relief.

Clark had a sub-par shooting day compared to his usual performances, shooting 8-of-22 (36.4%) from the field and 5-of-14 from three, though he made all but one of his 12 free throws. Clark added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Affolter was 4-of-6 from the field with a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe for 13 points with seven rebounds, while Stuelke had a double-double with 11 rebounds and 12 points for the Hokies.

Caitlin Clark reacts to a play on the court

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts after a game against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second round of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 25, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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For the Mountaineers, Quinerly was the leading scorer with 15 points, although she shot 6 of 14 from the field. Hemingway scored 10 points off the bench for West Virginia, and Kyah Watson also had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Despite having one of the deadliest offensive linemen to ever step on the hardwood, top-seeded teams aren’t immune to upsets when March Madness is on the schedule. But not Monday night, as Iowa advances to the Sweet 16, where it will face No. 5 Colorado later this week.

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