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Iowa holds off West Virginia as Hawkeyes advance to Sweet 16, Caitlin Clark drops 32 points

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The No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament are heading back to the Sweet 16, but it was no easy task against the No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers. 

The Hawkeyes defeated the Mountaineers, 64-54, but they needed to scratch and claw their way to victory in surprising fashion. 

It was a slow start for Iowa after they went down 11-5 early in the first quarter, but they managed to leave it with a 20-15 lead. 

However, a very low-scoring second quarter by both teams ended up with a halftime score of 26-24 in favor of Iowa. 

Many saw this game as a blowout candidate when looking at the schedule, but the second half would prove the Mountaineers were a relentless opponent, even if the Hawkeyes walked away victorious. 

It seemed Iowa was done playing games, as the third quarter ended with them owning a 48-38 lead. But this game was tied with just 5:18 left to play in the fourth quarter after Jayla Hemingway knocked down a three-pointer to put an exclamation point on a 10-0 run. 

WEST VIRGINIA COACH TONES DOWN CAITLIN CLARK TRASH TALK AS TEAMS SET TO MEET

The Hawkeyes finally got on the board in the fourth when Sydney Affolter hit both her free throws to retake the lead. But the scoreboard would go back and forth, as West Virginia battled to tie things up again before Iowa kept trying to pull away. 

It finally happened for the Hawkeyes as Affolter made an and-one free throw to go up three points, and West Virginia started to go cold from the field. Hemingway and JJ Quinerly couldn’t knock down three-pointers in hopes of taking a late lead. 

Caitlin Clark dribbles

As a result, the Mountaineers were forced to foul to keep their chances alive, but they were sending Caitlin Clark, the NCAA all-time points leader, to the free throw line. Clark knocked down her free throw attempts in the final minute and finished with a game-high 32 points. Hannah Stuelke also secured her final free throws to collect the win and breathe a sigh of relief. 

Clark had a sub-par shooting day compared to her usual performances, shooting 8-of-22 (36.4%) from the field and 5-of-14 from three, though she made all but one of her 12 free throws. Clark added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals as well. 

Affolter was 4-of-6 from the field with a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe for 13 points with seven rebounds, while Stuelke had a double-double with 11 rebounds and 12 points for the Hawkeyes. 

Caitlin Clark reacts to play on court

For the Mountaineers, Quinerly was the leading scorer with 15 points, though she shot 6-of-14 from the field. Hemingway had 10 points off the bench for West Virginia, and Kyah Watson had 13 points and seven rebounds as well. 

Despite having one of the most lethal offensive players to ever step on the hardwood, top-seeded teams are not immune to being upset when March Madness is on the schedule. But not on Monday night as Iowa moves on to the Sweet 16, where they will face No. 5 Colorado later this week. 

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