INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa’s bid for its fourth Big Ten Tournament championship in school history came up short on Saturday, falling 104-84 against top-seeded Maryland.
The top two scoring teams in the country put on another impressive offensive showing, but Maryland forced 18 turnovers and scored 26 points off 18 offensive rebounds to seal the title game win.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in the loss,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I do think we could have played better. But, I’m not disappointed by the effort this weekend by our women. I thought they played extremely well this weekend. We came here and made it to the championship game. No one would have thought that at the beginning of the year, and maybe even at the beginning of the week.”
With 22 points in the final, junior Monika Czinano set the Big Ten Tournament record for points scored in a single tournament, registering 107 points over four games (26.8 average). She also set the single-tournament record with 48 made field goals. Czinano was named to the all-tournament team. She added seven rebounds and finished 10-13 from the field in the championship game.
“We’ve made leaps and bounds this week,” Czinano said. “Going through the adversity of playing four games in four days; it’s a lot on your body and it’s a lot mentally. I’m really proud of our team. I don’t think a lot of people thought we would be playing in the championship game, considering how young we are.”
Freshman Caitlin Clark, who was also named to the all-tournament team, tallied 21 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Her 37 assists over four games in the Big Ten Tournament (9.3 per game) also set the single-tournament record for assists.
Sophomores Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin each had 11 points, while sophomore McKenna Warnock added 10.
Maryland sprinted out to an early 10-2 lead in the first two minutes of the contest, but a 9-2 Iowa run brought the Hawkeyes back to within three at 19-16. The Terrapins closed the first half on another 10-2 spurt to take an 11-point lead after the first 10 minutes.
The Terrapins took an 18-point lead into halftime after forcing seven Iowa turnovers in the second quarter for a 55-37 advantage.
After Maryland made the first bucket of the third quarter for a 21-point lead, Clark inspired a 9-2 Iowa run, scoring seven of the nine points to cut the deficit to 14 points. That would be the closest Iowa could get, as another Maryland run stretched the lead to 22 points at the end of the third quarter and a 25-point final period sealed the title for the Terrapins.
Saturday marked Iowa’s sixth Big Ten Tournament championship game appearance, including its second in three seasons. Bluder has lead Iowa to the championship game five times, with titles in 2001 and 2019.
The Hawkeyes will now wait for the NCAA Division I women’s college basketball tournament selection show, which will air Monday at 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. First round games are scheduled for March 21 and 22. First round games will be played in San Antonio, Austin, and San Marcos, Tex., while the remainder of the championship will be played in San Antonio.
“Maryland is a great team,” Bluder said. “They are a terrific basketball team. I can really see them getting to the Final Four. I hope they do because that bodes well for our conference. We should have eight teams from the Big Ten Conference going to the NCAA Tournament, which is a remarkable amount. I think a lot of teams are going to do very well in the NCAA Tournament and I think we are one of them.”