IOWA CITY, Iowa — Caitlin Clark admits she didn't have her best game, but it was enough to get Iowa to the Sweet 16.
The unanimous AP All-American had 22 points and 12 assists to help the Hawkeyes defeat Georgia 74-66 in a second-round women's NCAA Tournament game Sunday.
Clark was held scoreless for 13 minutes in the first half, but scored 14 second-half points as the Hawkeyes (28-6), the No. 2 seed in Seattle Regional 4, finally shook off the 10th-seeded Lady Bulldogs (22-12). She made just 6 of 17 shots, but either scored or assisted on 30 of Iowa's 33 second-half points.
“I think any time you’re one of the 16 teams who get to keep playing basketball, it’s pretty special,” Clark said. “But it wasn’t a huge party or celebration in the locker room. This wasn’t our goal. It’s one of the steps for reaching our goal, but it’s not the end-all, be-all for us.”
Clark knew she could have hit more shots, but was happy with the win.
“I probably could have made a couple of more shots,” she said. “I thought I had at least open threes that usually go down for me. But sometimes that happens.”
Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson thought they did a good job containing Clark.
“She averages 27 points a game, that’s a lot. I think we did a great job on her,” Abrahamson-Henderson said.
Monika Czinano had 20 points, Gabbie Marshall added 15 points and McKenna Warnock had 14 for Iowa, which erased the memory of last season's second-round home loss to No. 10 seed Creighton.
Georgia got within 68-66 on a 3-pointer from Audrey Warren with 2:17 left in the game, but the Lady Bulldogs would not score again, committing three straight turnovers and missing a layup.
“We made a lot of runs,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “I know everything is going to be about Iowa right now. But my team is really good. They are really good. We came in here, we fought like crazy, we were the underdogs, but there was no underdog here today.”
Iowa led by as much as 10 points in the first half behind Marshall and Warnock, who combined for five 3-pointers to open the second quarter. But a 14-3 run by the Lady Bulldogs gave them a 35-34 lead, and it took a late surge to give the Hawkeyes a 41-40 halftime lead.
Brittney Smith and Javyn Nicholson each had 12 points for Georgia.
Iowa plays the winner of Duke-Colorado.
Iowa was without freshman forward Hannah Stuelke. Stuelke, the Big Ten's Sixth Player of the Year, suffered an injured ankle in practice on Saturday.
“She literally hurt her ankle with about three minutes left in practice,” Bluder said.
Stuelke scored 14 points, making all five of her shots, in Friday's 93-45 first-round win over Southeastern Louisiana. She averages 7 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Bluder said she expects Stuelke to be available next weekend in the regional semifinal.
Georgia: The Lady Bulldogs fell short of their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2013, but they finished strong in Abrahamson-Henderson's first season as head coach. Georgia had won nine of their 12 games coming into Sunday's game. “We had two really really good teams on the floor today,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “And one of them was Georgia. For sure.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes were held 13 points under their national-best average of 87.8 points, but came up with enough offense against Georgia's zone defense, which forced 17 Iowa turnovers.
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