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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Iowa’s Marshall Seals Victory Over UConn with Clutch Defensive Play

As the seconds ticked away in a nail-biting showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the UConn Huskies, Marshall’s keen observation and decisive action sealed a critical moment in the game. Running into UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards, Marshall recognized the infraction – an illegal screen.

In a pivotal turn of events, the referee’s whistle blew, signaling the foul with only three seconds remaining on the clock and Iowa holding onto a slim one-point lead. With the foul called, Iowa secured a hard-fought victory, edging out UConn 71-69 and punching their ticket to the national championship game for the second consecutive year. Meanwhile, UConn’s dreams of advancing were dashed in heartbreaking fashion.

While the game was initially billed as a showdown between Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and UConn’s Paige Bueckers – two of the most decorated players in recent college basketball history – the outcome proved to be a testament to the collective efforts of both teams.

Bueckers finished the game with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while Clark contributed 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting for Iowa. However, it was evident that neither team would have been in contention without significant contributions from their supporting casts.

UConn received a notable boost from Edwards, who tallied 17 points and eight rebounds despite the crucial foul in the game’s closing moments. Additionally, KK Arnold made her mark with 14 points, five assists, and five steals in her debut Final Four appearance.

Yet, it was Iowa’s supporting players who ultimately made the difference. Forward Hannah Stuelke led the charge with 23 points, emerging as Iowa’s top scorer for the game. Notably, it was only the second time all season that Clark did not lead the Hawkeyes in scoring.

Throughout the game, Iowa’s supporting cast rose to the occasion, delivering crucial contributions in key moments. From Sydney Affolter’s critical rebound in the final seconds to Kate Martin’s 11 points and eight rebounds, the Hawkeyes showcased their depth and resilience.

The game was marked by momentum swings, with both teams mounting comebacks at various junctures. Clark struggled early on, shooting just 3 of 11 from the field and failing to make a three-pointer in the first half. However, Iowa rallied behind Affolter’s six points in the closing moments of the first half, cutting UConn’s lead to six.

The second half saw a back-and-forth battle, with Clark igniting the crowd with her first three-pointer of the game. Despite UConn’s late surge, fueled by Mühl’s steal and a crucial three-pointer, it was Marshall’s game-sealing defensive play that ultimately determined the outcome.

As Iowa advances to the national championship game for the second consecutive year, Clark and her teammates will have their sights set on redemption against top-seeded South Carolina. For Clark, the opportunity to compete for a title in her Iowa uniform represents a chance at redemption and a shot at glory.

Dan O'Brien
Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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