Czinano, Clark lead No. 9 Iowa over Samford, 91-54

Nov 11, 2021, 4:20 AM | Updated: 7:22 pm
Iowa center Monika Czinano (25) shoots a free throw during a NCAA college basketball game against S...

Iowa center Monika Czinano (25) shoots a free throw during a NCAA college basketball game against Samford, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)

(Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Samford coach Carley Kuhns would rather watch Iowa’s Monika Czinano and Caitlin Clark as a spectator.

Instead, Kuhns watched her team try, and fail, to contain the Hawkeyes’ inside-outside combination.

Czinano scored 20 points, Clark added 19 and No. 9 Iowa beat Samford 91-54 on Thursday night.

Clark and Czinano were 1-2 in the nation in field goals last season, and they have combined for 79 points in the first two games.

“They are just incredible players,” Kuhns said. “I told someone I just want a bucket of popcorn and be able to watch them. We came out early and watched them warm up, just because they’re such good players.

“That’s the measuring stick for what’s great.”

Iowa (2-0) led just 20-12 with 1:32 left in the first quarter before closing the half on a 27-10 run started by Clark with her first field goal. Clark, a preseason Associated Press All-American, finished the half with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Clark, a sophomore guard, took just four shots in nine second-half minutes as Iowa coach Lisa Bluder used all 11 scholarship players in the half. Clark finished 8 of 14 from the field, and didn’t mind getting most of the second half off.

“It’s just us building as a team,” Clark said. “Getting everyone in, building confidence, especially for the young players. We know, down the line, we’re going to have to play big minutes when we’re in close games.”

Czinano, a senior center, had 12 points in the second half. Czinano, who led the nation in field-goal percentage last season, made 8 of 11 shots.

“I think everyone was just finding me,” Czinano said. “I was just running, head down, trying to post up. And we had really good passes inside, and I was able to convert them.”

Iowa’s offense was one of the nation’s best last season, averaging almost 80 points per game. The Hawkeyes have scored 184 points in their first two games this season.

Bluder pointed to the 24 assists her team had on 37 field goals.

“We love it,” Bluder said. “We love passing the ball for a higher percentage shot.”

Iowa, which had one of the worst defenses in the nation last season despite making it to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals, has held its first two opponents of the season to just an average of 52 points on 31 % shooting.

“I think we’re being more active,” Bluder said. “I think we’re applying more pressure to the ball. I just think we’re just more aware of how important defense is. We’re putting more heart in it, and it shows.”

“I definitely think we’re more active,” Clark said. “Especially in the first half, we had really good defensive intensity. I think we were super active, and I thought we defended them overall.”

Andrea Cournoyer led Samford with 15 points in its opener. Annie Ramil had 15 rebounds.

NO TIME TO REST

Iowa just had one day to prepare after opening the season Tuesday against New Hampshire. The Hawkeyes then have two days to get ready for Sunday’s game at Northern Iowa.

No player played more than 25 minutes in this game.

“We really spread out our minutes tonight, which was good,” Bluder said.

The players don’t mind the schedule.

“We really do have to take care of our bodies,” Czinano said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are. It’s something you have to learn quick.”

Clark wanted to keep going.

“I can go play another 40 minutes,” she said, laughing.

CLOSING IN ON 800

Bluder is three wins away from reaching 800 wins for her career. Bluder, Iowa’s career leader, is 797-376. She ranks 14th on the NCAA Division I wins list.

BIG PICTURE

The Hawkeyes, who had 19 turnovers in Tuesday’s season opener against New Hampshire, took a little better care of the ball in this game with 17 turnovers, but still looked out of sorts at time on offense.

UP NEXT

Samford: Hosts Montevallo on Sunday.

Iowa: At Northern Iowa on Sunday.

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Czinano, Clark lead No. 9 Iowa over Samford, 91-54