THE MONDAY TIPOFF: All Of The Pieces Fit For The Hawkeyes


Caitlin Clark’s day was done a lot sooner than usual, but she wasn’t about to sit down.

She had a show to enjoy.

So, when Taylor McCabe’s third consecutive 3-pointer ripped the net late in the third quarter of Iowa’s 111-57 win over Rutgers on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Clark had to be held back from racing down the sideline to celebrate.

The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes have their star power, with Clark leading the way, but Sunday was all about everybody, from the All-American to the transfer to the freshmen.

Clark had 15 points and 10 assists for her 13th double-double of the season. But Molly Davis, who joined the Hawkeyes from Central Michigan in the offseason, led Iowa with 17 points. McCabe, a freshman who had played just 11 games this season, played a season-high 17 minutes, 34 seconds, and had 12 points.

And when coach Lisa Bluder came into the post-game press conference, it was Davis and McCabe sitting next to her.

“We have tremendous confidence in both of these young ladies, along with several others that came off the bench,” Bluder said. “Truly, you can see what both of these women are capable of doing.”

It would have been easy for Bluder to leave her starters in and put some glitzy numbers in the box score, but there was no need for that. Certainly not with the end of the season looming, and a chance to manage the workload of the players who have already logged a lot of the minutes this season.

Iowa wasn’t going to be challenged by Rutgers, which had just eight players on its roster. The Hawkeyes were up 60-28 at halftime, 97-42 at the end of three quarters.

All 14 Hawkeyes got playing time. All 14 scored. No one took more than seven shots.

“Just being able to go to your bench, it’s important,” Bluder said.

McCabe came to the Hawkeyes with the reputation of being a 3-point shooter, but she is caught in the traffic jam of depth in Iowa’s backcourt. She had played just 91:13 in her 11 games.

“It was pretty fun, I can’t lie,” McCabe said of the opportunity.

The consecutive threes, she said, is what she does.

“My teammates and my coaches see that from me pretty frequently,” McCabe said. “So I don’t think anybody was too surprised.”

Still, there’s a difference seeing it in the isolation of the practice gym and seeing it in a Big Ten game in front of a crowd of more than 13,000 fans. Which is why Clark went crazy and had to be held back by Monika Czinano, and McKenna Warnock and Hannah Stuelke did a well-choreographed dance.

“Oh, I could hear it,” McCabe said of the sideline party. “Yeah. Pretty cool.”

Davis has been a key reserve, with an occasional start this season after coming from a school where she was an all-conference selection her first three seasons. She had made just 3-of-12 shots in her last three games, but was 5-of-7 from the field in this game.

“I just tried not to think about it too much,” Davis said. “I struggled the past few games, so I was just trying to get out of my head a little bit. And once I saw that first shot go in, I had a lot of confidence.”

It was a good day for everyone to break out of their struggles. Stuelke, like McCabe a freshman, had missed eight consecutive free throws, including some big misses in Thursday’s 87-78 loss to Indiana. But after missing her first two in this game, she swished two consecutive, both bringing a loud ovation from the crowd and cheers from Clark, who stood at midcourt waving her arms to encourage the applause.

The Hawkeyes needed a bounce-back from the defeat to Indiana and got it. They’re one game behind the Hoosiers, and to repeat as Big Ten champions they’ll need their star power.

But they also showed on Sunday that all of the pieces fit, and that can be just as important in a long March run.

Photo: Caitlin Clark (22) and her Iowa teammates celebrate in the second half of Sunday’s win over Rutgers. (Brian Ray/

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