They certainly didn’t make it easy, but Caitlin Clark and No. 2 Iowa are headed to Seattle.
The Hawkeyes escaped a tight battle with No. 10 Georgia on Sunday afternoon in Iowa City in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They won 74-66 thanks to a final defensive stand that kept Georgia scoreless for the final two minutes of the game. The Bulldogs had several chances to pull off the upset, but fell apart in the final stretch and committed a pair of flagrant fouls in the last 15 seconds of the game.
Clark and the Hawkeyes looked great right away on Sunday afternoon. She drained two 3-pointers almost instantly, including one where she pulled up from the logo with 27 seconds still left on the shot clock.
Clark, however, scored just two more points the rest of the first half. Georgia hung around and went into the break down just a point, too, thanks to 16 first-half points from Diamond Battles. The Bulldogs outrebounded Iowa by eight in the first 20 minutes, too.
Clark picked up her third foul early in the third quarter, too, and Georgia tied the game up 46-46 after holding Iowa scoreless for more than three minutes. The Bulldogs then took a brief lead off a Javyn Nicholson layup late in the third.
Though the Hawkeyes mounted a couple of small runs to end the third and start the fourth quarter, it didn’t keep Georgia away for long. The Bulldogs cut the game back to a single possession after an Audrey Warren 3-pointer with just more than two minutes left in the game.
That was the last bucket Georgia scored. The Bulldogs had several chances, including after a huge steal by Battles that left her on a fast break in the final seconds and should have cut the game to a single possession again, but she couldn’t get it to fall.
Jordan Isaacs then committed a flagrant foul on Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall with just 3.8 seconds left, too, when she hit her in the face in the corner on the other end. That sent Clark to the line, where she hit a pair of free throws to push Iowa’s lead even further. Nicholson gave Clark an extra shove a play later, too, to commit another flagrant foul and send her back to the line — where she sealed the eight-point win.
That ended any chance of a second-consecutive upset in the second round of the tournament for the Hawkeyes, who had their Sweet 16 hopes last season ruined by a stunning loss to Creighton. For the third time in five years, they’re playing in the second weekend of the tournament.
Clark dropped 22 points and had 12 assists, and was responsible for all but two of Iowa’s second-half points. Monika Czinano added 20 points and nine rebounds.
Battles led Georgia with 21 points and six rebounds. Nicholson and Brittney Smith added 12 points each. The Bulldogs, who beat No. 7 Florida State in the first round of the tournament, were searching for their first Sweet 16 trip since 2013.
This post will be updated with more information shortly.