Iowa lowest-scoring games: How Caitlin Clark, Hawkeyes survived March Madness scare from West Virginia

Iowa endured all it could handle in the form of West Virginia, a formidable foe that blotted the Hawkeyes’ star shine for much of Monday’s contest.

Ultimately, the Caitlin Clark-led side did just enough to pull through, but it was far from a convincing performance. As Clark and Co. disappeared into the locker room, it left a great many wondering just what had gone wrong.

Here’s a look at the factors that almost cost the Hawkeyes on Monday night.

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Why did Iowa struggle vs. West Virginia?

Clark and the Hawkeyes looked worse for the wear over the course of the day, struggling to find a rhythm against the Mountaineers’ frenzied defense.

West Virginia entered the game giving up 57.6 points per contest, the 36th-best mark in the nation. It was a successful deterrent for Clark and Co., the most effective offense in the country during the regular season.

Iowa hit just 36.2 percent of its shots, struggling to find a rhythm amid a steady pour of West Virginia defenders.

MORE: Clark’s final home send-off | Reactions to Iowa’s free-throw advantage

It was the second-worst scoring performance of the season for the Hawkeyes, who hit just 17 field goals on Monday, four fewer than West Virginia. If not for a sizable free throw difference — Iowa attempted 30 free throws to the Mountaineers’ five — the game could have been a different story.

Clark was at her effervescent best during the first half, as the senior star dropped 13 of Iowa’s 26 points. However, her hot shooting screeched to a halt as the game wore on. Despite a brief 13-point explosion in the third frame, Clark finished the fourth with just eight points, all of which came from the free throw line.

The poor shooting wasn’t Clark’s alone, though. The whole team struggled, falling well short of its average rates in field goal percentage (36.2 percent compared to 50.2 percent entering into the game), three-point shooting (22.7 percent on Monday vs. 38.0 percent beforehand), and assists (seven vs. 21.9 on the year). Couple that with a major turnover differential and surrendering 19 points off of giveaways, and it had all the makings of a tough day at the office for the Hawkeyes.

Things turned out in Iowa’s favor on Monday night, but given the team’s various foibles, you’d have to reckon the other college basketball superpowers are swirling around like vultures, hoping to get a chance to vanquish Clark and the Hawkeyes on the biggest stage. Monday night proved that is a real possibility, too.

MORE: Caitlin Clark vs. Paige Bueckers stat comparison

Iowa’s lowest-scoring games during Caitlin Clark era

Monday’s game turned out to be Iowa’s second-lowest-scoring affair of the entire season. In fact, it was one of the lowest-scoring games of Clark’s collegiate career. To date, the Hawkeyes have only scored fewer points in a game that Clark has taken part in three times, including against Kansas State back in November and in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2022 when they fell to Creighton.

Date Matchup/Result
Nov. 16, 2023 Kansas State 65, Iowa 58
March 20, 2022 Creighton 64, Iowa 62
Dec. 2, 2021 Duke 79, Iowa 64
March 25, 2024 Iowa 64, West Virginia 54
Dec. 6, 2023 Iowa 67, Iowa State 58
Jan. 9, 2021 Northwestern 77, Iowa 67

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