Clark, Warnock lift No. 9 Iowa past Northern Iowa 82-61

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Whatever she said, Caitlin Clark wasn’t saying.

A preseason Associated Press All-American, the Iowa sophomore hit a late 3-pointer Sunday, then was headed down court when she was called for the first technical foul of her career.

After the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes beat Northern Iowa 82-61, the high-scoring guard didn’t want to detail what she said, or who was supposed to hear it.

“I like to talk to myself,” Clark said, laughing. “I was just hyping myself up. I was just trying to give us confidence, you know?”

“Maybe just talking out in general?” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said, smiling.

Clark certainly spoke with her numbers. She had 25 points and 11 rebounds, the 10th double-double of her career and first of the season, while adding seven assists.

It was Clark’s first road game in front of fans since arenas were empty last season during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she enjoyed the opportunity.

“I’m one of those people who just thrives off the crowd,” Clark said. “I’m competitive, no matter what it is. No matter if it’s a basketball game, a board game, if I’m playing a game on my phone, I want to win. I don’t care, I want to win no matter what.”

Clark shot 9 of 22 from the field, including 4 of 13 on 3-pointers.

“You’ll have those games,” Clark said. “Especially when you’re on the road, and you’re not used to the rims.”

McKenna Warnock had 17 points and six rebounds for the Hawkeyes. Monika Czinano had 16.

Iowa (3-0) had a 21-2 run in the first quarter, holding Northern Iowa (1-1) scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes. The Hawkeyes were ahead 24-9 at the end of the quarter and led by double digits the rest of the game.

“The first quarter we came out, we took charge of this game,” Bluder said.

The Hawkeyes had their offensive struggles. They shot 44.8% from the field, but just 34.5 percent in 3-pointers.

“Our offense wasn’t very good tonight,” Bluder said. “Our offense could be much better. We took some hard shots we didn’t need to take. Some of them were threes that go in for us. And they weren’t going in today.”

The Hawkeyes held the Panthers to just 32.3% shooting, including 27.6% on 3-pointers.

“To be able to compete against Iowa, you have to score,” Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren said. “And I thought we left a lot of buckets out there.”

Iowa reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament last season despite having one of the worst defenses in the nation — the Hawkeyes were 315th in field-goal percentage defense and 336th in scoring defense. But Iowa has held its first three opponents this season to an average of 55 points and 31.6% shooting.

“I think that needs to be our identity,” Clark said. “I think we need to rely on our defense, especially when shots don’t fall like they should.”

Kam Finley led Northern Iowa with 17 points, adding six rebounds. Maya McDermott scored 14.

STATE RIVALS

Iowa has a 24-3 record against Northern Iowa, winning 14 of the last 15 games. The Hawkeyes have won their last six in-state games against the Panthers, Drake and Iowa State.

CLOSING IN ON 800

Bluder picked up her 798th win. She ranks 14th nationally in career victories.

BIG PICTURE

The Hawkeyes got through their first road test of the season. The last time Iowa played here, in the 2019-20 season, Northern Iowa won 88-66. It was the second-worst loss of the season for the Hawkeyes, who went on to go 23-7 and finish third in the Big Ten.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Hosts Southern on Wednesday.

Northern Iowa: At North Dakota State on Wednesday.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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