Iowa City— Iowa struggled to move through the mud as Carver-Hawkeye Arena blasted in hard-earned noise. Not a basketball masterpiece. Not everyone needs a long season.
No. 2 Iowa was tested throughout Thursday's big game against Kansas State due to a choppy flow and lack of offensive rhythm. The stabilizing run Iowa needed never came.
Kansas State upset the Hawkeyes early in the non-conference schedule for the second year in a row. Iowa (3-1) and Caitlin Clark played uncomfortably for 40 minutes in Thursday's 65-58 loss, unable to locate the winning ingredients she has so often found.
"That was just not Iowa basketball," said Clark, who scored 24 points but shot 9-for-32 and 2-for-16 from deep. "As point guard, I'm responsible. I must improve our offensive. I must improve my shot selection."
Two Ayoka Lee free throws with 1:12 left gave Kansas State (3-0) its first lead of the fourth quarter, 59-58, despite Iowa's uphill battle. Clark missed four shots on Iowa's final three possessions as Kansas State pulled away. Two Wildcat free throws with 9.3 seconds left sealed this shocking upset.
Iowa missed 60 points for the first time since Feb. 13, 2020, at Maryland because Clark went 1-for-10 in the fourth quarter and had her first collegiate game with 20-plus misses. No one except Clark took double-digit shots, and the Hawkeyes tallied two fastbreak points.
The Hawkeyes anticipated Kansas State would return to Iowa City after a tense one-point setback in Manhattan, Kansas, last year. This one required more than a superstar for Iowa.
"We just have to give other people more opportunities to shoot threes and create opportunities for them to shine," Lisa Bluder of Iowa. "We really aren't giving people opportunities to shine like they're capable of."
As crunch time came, things seemed stable. Iowa turned a seven-point deficit into a 48-42 lead with 9:04 left after a 13-0 run that began late in the third quarter and lasted over seven minutes. But that didn't calm a rowdy crowd down the stretch.