Championship bound: Iowa Hawkeyes top Brea Beal and Gamecocks in the Final Four
DALLAS, Texas (KWQC) - The South Carolina dominated the offensive glass all game Friday night, but with just under 20-seconds, Iowa’s McKenna Warnock grabbed a Caitlin Clark miss that would prove to be the rebound of the game, helping the Hawkeyes hold on to a 77-73 win to head to Sunday’s NCAA Championship.
Iowa came out of the gate in Dallas ready to prove that they were more than a double-digit underdog to the defending National Championships. Iowa scored the first four points and jumped out to a 9 point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Caitlin Clark continued to show why she was selected as the Naismith Player of the Year. In the second quarter, the Junior nailed her second three pointer of the game to set the Big Ten record for most threes in the season and that shot also gave Clark 1000 points on the year, a mark that has only been reached by five other players in D1 basketball. With 2:30 left in the half, Clark hit another three pointer to become the single season leader in Big Ten history.
The Hawkeye defense, playing a triangle and two for much of the first half, shut down last season’s Naismith Player of the Year, Aliyah Boston, and Rock Island grad, Brea Beal, holding them each scoreless before the half. Zia Cooke, and the Gamecocks rebounding, kept South Carolina close, making it a 1 point game at the break.
Midway through the third quarter, the Hawkeyes stretched the lead back out to 9, but South Carolina showed why they were the defending champs. The Gamecocks were able to take the lead multiple times in the third and fourth quarter, only to have the Hawkeyes fire right back to go back in front.
With five minutes left in the game, South Carolina cut the Hawkeye lead to one possession, and it would stay that way until 13-seconds left, when Caitlin Clark hit two free throws that would prove to be the game winner.
Clark set a NCAA semifinal record, scoring 41 points for her second straight game on 15-31 shooting. Clark either scored or assisted on 75% of the Hawkeye points. The other half of the Law Firm, Monika Czinano fought through foul trouble again, but still scored 18 point in the game.
The Hawkeyes will face LSU for the National Championship on Sunday.
Rock Island grad finished her South Carolina career with just 3 points, fouling out in the final seconds.
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