Freshman Caitlin Clark, the nation’s leading scorer, had 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Monika Czinano also scored 23 points, and No. 5 seed Iowa beat 12th-seeded Central Michigan 87-72 on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa (19-9) advances to play the winner of the Kentucky-Idaho State game on Tuesday.
Clark had 15 points and five assists through the first 14 minutes — before picking up her second foul with 3:33 in the half on a charging call. Iowa was comfortably ahead at the break, 48-37, partially because the nation’s seventh-leading scorer, Micaela Kelly, picked up three fouls in the first quarter for Central Michigan.
Clark was held to two points in the third quarter but teammate McKenna Warnock, who was scoreless in the first half, scored 11 straight Iowa points — capped by a 3-pointer to give the Hawkeyes a 63-52 lead. Clark scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to start Iowa’s 8-3 run to build an 18-point lead.
Warnock secured her third straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Iowa. Czinano, who set the Big Ten Tournament record with 107 points over four games, was 10 of 18 from the field as Iowa shot 46.2%. Kate Martin matched Clark with three 3-pointers, and scored 13 points — all in the first quarter.
Kelly, averaging 23.9 points, finished with 23 points and four 3-pointers in 27 minutes for Central Michigan (18-9). Molly Davis, ranking 22nd at 20.9 points, was just 7 of 18 from the field for 18 points with six rebounds and five steals.
Kelly made two 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of the third quarter, and Kyra Bussell added a putback to pull Central Michigan within 54-48. But that’s as close as the Chippewas would get in the second half.