EVANSTON, Ill. — Fewer turnovers and more of "the same old boring thing" would have benefited the Iowa women’s basketball team on Saturday night.
Northwestern turned 18 Hawkeye turnovers into 28 points, matching the career-high scoring effort of Monika Czinano in the 22nd-ranked Wildcats' 77-67 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"We didn’t make as good of decisions passing the ball as we have, and they capitalized," said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, whose team had a four-game win streak end.
The other decision Bluder wished she would have seen more of was an effort to put the ball in Czinano’s hands.
Against a Northwestern team that had no 6-footers in its lineup, the Hawkeyes made an effort to get the ball down low to their junior post player and Czinano responded.
She connected on her first 10 shots from the field, including all nine she attempted in a first half that ended in a 36-36 draw.
But, Czinano ended up with just four shots in the final two quarters, going 13-for-14 from the game.
"I wish she would have shot it 20 times," Bluder said. "This was one of those games. They couldn’t stop her and we didn’t go to her enough. Sometimes, the same old boring thing is the best thing to do."
Czinano, whose 28 points topped her previous career high set earlier this season at Drake by one point, said the Hawkeyes believed they could exploit their size advantage.
"My teammates did a good job finding me and I was able to get some open looks that helped us out," Czinano said.
That also led to a 38-30 advantage on the boards for Iowa, with the dozen rebounds grabbed by Czinano complementing the career-high 17 that McKenna Warnock collected.
"We did some good things, but the points we gave up off of turnovers, they were too much to overcome," Warnock said.
As was the case in the only other loss Iowa has suffered through 10 games this season — a four-point setback at Michigan State — the Hawkeyes started slowly against Northwestern (6-2, 4-2 Big Ten).
The Wildcats built a 23-16 lead after one quarter before Iowa tied the game at halftime, but Northwestern hit 11-of-16 shots in the third quarter to carry a 62-50 lead into the fourth.
A 3-point basket by Gabbie Marshall, who finished with 11, pulled the Hawkeyes (8-2, 4-2) within 66-60 with 7 minutes, 1 second remaining, but Iowa turned the ball over three times and mustered just one field goal over the next 5:29 as the Wildcats pulled away to the win.
Jordan Hamilton led a group of three Northwestern players in double figures with a 19-point game, balance that countered the defensive effort Kate Martin led in limiting preseason Big Ten player of the year Lindsey Pulliam to six points.
Conversely, the Wildcats held Big Ten scoring leader Caitlin Clark to eight points, although she dished out an equal number of assists.
"We did some good things, but we didn’t play our best basketball, and when you go against a good team like Northwestern, a rated team, you need to be at your best," Bluder said.
"We just seemed a step slow from the start. We battled, got back into it, but could never get over the hump."