Caitlin Clark Post Game Interview After 27pts, 10ast, 8reb, 3stl | NCAA Tournament, Iowa Hawkeyes.

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Iowa Hawkeyes ‘knock the rust off’ in NCAA tournament opener, knock Holy Cross out, 91-65

Of course, they wouldn’t want to tempt fate with this for an extended period of time.

But for two magic minutes – One Shining Moment? – the Iowa Hawkeyes played their best ball of the day with their superstar on the bench.

“Sometimes, our offense … we pass a little better with Caitlin (Clark) on the bench,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “People stepped up in that stretch.”

That stretch, a 10-0 gem late in the first quarter, sprung Iowa out of a small early hole, and the second-ranked Hawkeyes subdued Holy Cross 91-65 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before a sellout crowd of 14,324 Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We knocked the rust off,” Kate Martin said after the Hawkeyes (30-4) played their first game in 13 days. “We’re not super-pleased. Our defense wasn’t there for four quarters.

“But at this time of year, it’s survive and advance.”


Iowa broke it open with a 25-9 second quarter that forged an 18-point halftime lead.

The Hawkeyes led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter, and move on to face West Virginia (25-7) – a 63-53 winner over Princeton – in the second round Monday.

The winner advances to the Sweet 16 next week at Albany, New York.

Martin supplied a double-double (15 points and 14 rebounds) to complement a typical Clark stat line (27 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists).

Addison O’Grady came off the bench to score 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

“I’m just excited to provide any help I can,” said O’Grady, who got most of the second-half post minutes in Hannah Stuelke’s absence (headache).

“You never really know. You always have to stay ready.”

A 27-point winner over Tennessee-Martin in a First Four game Thursday, Holy Cross (21-13) hung around for a while and led 11-10 on Bronagh Power-Cassidy’s first 3-pointer.

“I don’t think there was any reason to be intimidated,” Holy Cross’ Janelle Allen said. “Nervous is one thing, intimidated was another.”

Clark exited briefly, and the Hawkeyes surged.

Gabbie Marshall nailed a 3-pointer and O’Grady scored back-to-back buckets to put the Hawkeyes in front 20-11.

Marshall’s 11 points gave the Hawkeyes a fourth double-figure scorer.

“When Gabbie is on, it lights a fire …” Martin said.

Power-Cassidy nailed three more 3-pointers to bring the Crusaders within 23-21 by the end of the quarter, but they could muster only one field goal (in 12 attempts) in the second period, and Iowa took a 48-30 lead into halftime.

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“The first quarter, we showed a little rust,” Bluder said. “The second quarter, we got going better.”

Power-Cassidy led the Crusaders with 19 points, 17 in the first half. Allen added 18 points.

The Hawkeyes showed rust at times, and Clark exhibited frustration in certain instances. The ABC telecast caught her complaining after a call, and then panned to her father, Brent Clark, who told her, “Stop!”

Another time, Clark bonked the ball off her head after a play.

“I could have smiled more,” Clark said. “I expect us to be really good all of the time.”

The Hawkeyes were good enough.

“I’m happy,” Bluder said. “I’m never going to complain after a 26-point victory.”