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Iowa hands Minnesota worst loss in program’s NCAA history

Hawkeyes’ 105-49 win surpasses previous margin of 55 points set in 1986 and matched in 2020.

FSA Minnesota Gophers
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MINNEAPOLIS —Caitlin Clark had 35 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and Watertown’s Monika Czinano added 23 and six rebounds as Iowa handed Minnesota its worst loss since women’s basketball was sponsored by the NCAA in 1982, 105-49, at Williams Arena on Thursday.

Clark is the nation’s leading scorer, and Czinano is a first-team all-Big Ten post, but Minnesota’s transition defense — or lack thereof — played a major role in the Gophers’ worst loss of the season.

Gabbie Marshall’s layup off a steal by teammate Kylie Feuerbach gave the Hawkeyes a 97-48 lead with 7 minutes, 4 seconds left in the game. Marshall finished with 16 points for the Hawkeyes, who improved to 11-4 overall, 5-1 in the Big Ten.

Sara Scalia scored 15 points for Minnesota but had little help as the Gophers lost for the second straight game and fell to 9-10 overall, 2-5 in conference play. The Gophers’ largest losing margin was 61 in a 114-53 loss at Texas on Dec. 4, 1978. They also lost to Indiana by 56, 93-37, in 1974-75.

Since 1982, Minnesota’s largest losing margin was 55 points, set Nov. 29, 1986, in a 101-46 loss to fourth-ranked Auburn and matched in a 99-44 loss to No. 7 Maryland on March 1, 2020.

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Clark, averaging 25.7 points entering Thursday’s game, had 21 at the half and finished nine off her career high of 44, set Jan. 2 in a 93-56 victory over Evansville.

The Gophers followed what has been a consistent script at the start, falling behind early — 20-6 with 3:10 left in the first quarter — before charging back to make it a game. Point guard Alexia Smith provided a spark off the bench, scoring five points during a 7-0 Minnesota run to end the frame, including a 3-pointer with 1 second left to cut Iowa’s lead to 20-13.

Also to script, however, was the way Minnesota struggled to get enough stops to tie or take a lead. The Gophers pulled within six twice in the second quarter before the Hawkeyes rolled off an 8-0 run on consecutive 3-pointers by Clark and Marshall, and a transition basket by Kate Martin pushed Iowa’s lead to 33-19.

Iowa took a 41-25 lead with 2:50 left in the half when Minnesota failed to get back on defense and Addison O’Grady scored in transition, and Feuerbach scored off her own steal.

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