Hawkeyes surge in second half to advance to national championship tilt against South Carolina

For the second straight year, the Iowa Hawkeyes will play for a national championship
Connecticut v Iowa
Connecticut v Iowa / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The Iowa Hawkeyes Final Four venture was a stressful environement. After early struggles against the UConn Huskies, the Hawkeyes clawed for a chance to return to the national championship stage.

The first half was determined by the Huskies defense. Nika Muhl smothered Caitlin Clark, forcing the NCAA all-time leading scorer to settle for six points in the first two quarters, blanked from deep on six attempts.

The Hawkeyes vaunted offense was held to just 26 first-half points as Clark's frustrations led to 12 turnovers by the Black & Gold. Errant passes into the lane and missed opportunities on clean shots kept the Hawkeyes at bay.

To the Hawkeyes credit, the Huskies weren't able to pull away despite their advantages.

Iowa found their rhythm in the 3rd quarter taking the game into the final set tied at 51. Aggressive pushes to the basket and maybe a hint of exhaustion on UConn's lack of depth put the Huskies into foul trouble with KK Arnold and Ice Brady finishing the third with four fouls each.

With the pressure shifted onto the Huskies, Iowa began to creaqte some distance on the scoreboard. While Clark began to find some heat, Hannah Stuelke's efforts under the basket and in transition were crucial in Iowa's victory.

Clark finished with 21 points, seven assists and nine rebounds. Meanwhile, her superstar counterpart for the Huskies Paige Buekers posted 17 points, three assists and four rebounds.

The Hawkeyes/Huskies will face the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks in the NCAA national championship Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m. CST on ABC.

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