By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
Caitlin Clark will get at least one more game in her home area.
Iowa’s women’s and men’s basketball teams will play a doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena on December 16. The women will play Cleveland State, while the men will play Florida A&M.
Game times and television information will be announced at a later date.
Clark, the reigning national player of the year who grew up in West Des Moines, is back with the Hawkeyes for her senior season, and could use the additional season of eligibility granted by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has played two games in Des Moines in her career when the Hawkeyes played at Drake in the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons, but this would be a chance to play in a more of a home-court setting.
The Hawkeyes, who won 31 games reached the national championship game last season before losing to LSU, bring back three starters — Clark and fellow guards Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin — as well as forward Hannah Stuelke, the Big Ten’s Sixth Player of the Year.
“We’re excited to play in our state’s capital at Wells Fargo Arena,” said Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder. “It will be another great opportunity for both the men’s and women’s programs at Iowa to play in front of Hawkeye fans in Des Moines.”
Cleveland State won 30 games last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa’s men’s team, which won 19 games and reached its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, will be making its ninth appearance at Wells Fargo Arena. Four players with starting experience, including seniors Patrick McCaffery and Tony Perkins. Perkins was an honorable mention all-conference selection after averaging 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. McCaffery was tabbed the team’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree after averaging 9.8 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Junior Payton Sandfort and freshman Pryce Sandfort, who grew up in nearby Waukee, also will get a chance to play in front of a hometown crowd. Payton, the 2023 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, led his Waukee High School team to the 2021 Class 4A state championship. Pryce, the 2023 Mr. Basketball of Iowa, led his Waukee Northwest High School team to a Class 4A runner-up finish in March.
“We look forward to returning to Des Moines for this unique event at Wells Fargo Arena,” said Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery. “This men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader gives Hawkeye fans in central Iowa the opportunity to see both programs play close to home.”
Photo: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark signs autographs for fans after an NCAA Tournament game in March at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Keith Gillett/Icon SportsWire)