IU women’s basketball suffers first loss in nearly two months in regular-season finale

Indiana women’s basketball was so close, but so far.

The second-ranked Hoosiers, after trailing for most of Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, took an 85-83 lead over No. 6 Iowa with 1.5 seconds left on free throws by Mackenzie Holmes.

But that was too much time for the Hawkeyes, and particularly, for Caitlin Clark. After a timeout that advanced the ball to mid-court, Monika Czinano set an off-ball screen for Clark, which tripped up Chloe Moore-McNeil on defense. And Clark caught the pass, turned towards the hoop, and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

That big moment snapped IU’s 14-game winning streak, as Iowa came away with a dramatic 86-85 win.

Iowa (23-6, 15-3 Big Ten) led for 35:21 of game time. Indiana (26-2, 16-2) led for just 2:32. The Hawkeyes led at the end of each quarter, and went up by as much as 11 in the first quarter. But IU, despite early 3-point struggles, didn’t go away easily. The Hoosiers clawed to stay in the game, and it was nearly enough.

Clark had a big game, with 34 points on an 12-for-22 clip, nine rebounds, nine assists and two turnovers. But the bigger problem for Indiana was what Iowa got from its other options. Kate Martin scored 19 points, with 13 in the first half. And Czinano put up 11 points in the second half to finish at 13, along with nine rebounds. Iowa is harder to beat when its secondary options get rolling.

Holmes led IU in scoring with 21 points on an efficient 8-of-10 line, and grabbed six rebounds. She battled foul trouble, picking up a fourth during the fourth quarter. Moore-McNeil and Sydney Parrish also had four.

Parrish had a huge second half, and was key in Indiana’s comeback attempt. She shot 5 for 9 from the field and 3 for 6 from 3-point range for 16 points in the second half. That put her at 18 points total.

Moore-McNeil set a new career high with 18 points, on 6-of-12 shooting. She was handed the difficult assignment of guarding Caitlin Clark, and that landed her in foul trouble that rapidly became a problem in the second half. After having just one foul at halftime, the junior had four going into the fourth quarter.

Grace Berger also scored in double-figures, with 16 points on an 8-for-15 clip, and a team-high eight assists.

Yarden Garzon grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds, but endured her worst outside shooting performance of the season. The freshman owned a top-five 3-point percentage in the nation entering this game, but went 1 for 5 on Sunday.

IU enters the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis as the No. 1 seed. The Hoosiers earn a double-bye to Friday’s quarterfinals, where they’ll face the winner between Michigan State and Nebraska on Thursday.