By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
IOWA CITY — The second quarter of Iowa’s 93-64 win over Northwestern on Wednesday night was Hannah Stuelke’s show.
Except she was supposed to be in the game in the first quarter.
Stuelke, in her usual spot in Iowa’s rotation off the bench, went to the scorer’s table to check in at the under-5 media timeout of the first quarter.
And then the freshman forward sat there for the final four-plus minutes of the quarter that went by with no stoppage of play.
It turned out to be the best seat in the house.
“The view from right there…” Stuelke said, and then she started laughing.
Once she got into the game, everyone got a good look at her.
Stuelke scored 11 of her 17 points in the second quarter, making 5-of-6 shots as the 12th-ranked Hawkeyes (13-4 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) took control of the game and never let up.
“Hannah was an amazing spark in that second quarter,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
“I just try to come in and be a little spark,” Stuelke said.
“The crowd loves Hannah, that’s for sure,” said Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, who just missed a triple-double with 20 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
Stuelke has found a role in an otherwise veteran rotation. She is averaging 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds overall, but nine points and 5.2 rebounds in conference play.
And she’s become a crowd favorite.
“I used to be a part of that crowd,” said Stuelke, who grew up in Cedar Rapids. “So that’s pretty cool.”
“Everybody can see what an amazing athlete she is,” Bluder said. “Just a terrific basketball player, and human being.”
Bluder said Stuelke was originally ticketed to be the first backup at the ‘4’ spot, but she’s become just as comfortable playing the ‘5’.
“So she’s the first in for us at both positions,” Bluder said. “She’s explosive, she’s an unbelievable rebounder, driver. We need to use her.”
“I think it’s been tremendous to see her growth, especially when she comes in and impacts the game like that,” Clark said. “Her teammates believe in her more than she believes in herself. I think that’s a lot of times how a lot of girls are. Your teammates can give you confidence, which is what we try to do for her. I think she’s really starting to see her potential and see where she can go.”
Clark and Stuelke were among four Hawkeyes who scored in double figures. Monika Czinano added 18 points and McKenna Warnock had 10.
It was a milestone night for Clark, who moved into second place on the program’s all-time scoring list with 2,117 points.
Bluder tried to get Clark what would have been her eighth triple-double, putting her back into the game with 3:41 to play needing just one rebound.
“I was crashing the (offensive) boards pretty hard,” Clark said, smiling.
But the last rebound never came, and Clark left the game with 1:32 left.
“A triple-double is so special,” Bluder said. “It’s so hard to get. I tell her what I need her to do — get one rebound. There is risk involved in that. But there’s risk in walking into a restaurant downtown. I want my players to have those accolades if they’re that close. But there is a point when you have to take her out.”
Iowa, coming off Saturday’s win at Michigan, is in solo possession of second place in the Big Ten, one game behind Ohio State.
“First of all, I think we put together back-to-back really complete games,” Bluder said. “That makes me feel good this time of year when you’re putting together consistency, which is what you really need.”
Caileigh Walsh led Northwestern (6-10, 0-6) with 22 points.
Photo: Iowa’s Hannah Stuelke draws a charge from Northwestern’s Sydney Wood in Wednesday’s game. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)