Caitlin Clark’s ankle is fine, and No. 4 Iowa rebounds

Iowa junior Caitlin Clark takes on Belmont’s Tessa Miller on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Clark scored 33 points in the Hawkeyes’ 73-62 win. (Amir Prellberg/freelancer)

IOWA CITY — That ankle that’s been causing so much fear for the last 60 hours was good to go.

Caitlin Clark played in fourth-placed Iowa’s 73-62 non-conference basketball win over Belmont at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday — and played very well.

“We have the best medical facility in the country,” Clark said after losing 33 points to the Bruins. “I had the normal swelling and bruising, but not much pain, so I knew I could walk.”

Clark, the Hawkeyes’ All-American point guard, sprained his left ankle in the season-opener win over Southern University and then aggravated it in the final game of their one-point loss at Kansas State on Thursday.

“It definitely shakes you up a bit,” she said. “It’s going to be the same stuff, and every time you do it weakens the ankle.”

The only double-digit player for the Hawkeyes (4-1), Clark hit on 10 of 18 shots from the floor (3 of 7 from 3-point range) and 10 of 11 from the free throw line. She also registered five assists and committed to just one turnover.

Monika Czinano added nine points and 10 rebounds. Molly Davis and Hannah Stuelke each contributed seven points from the bench.

“It was a good way to get back on my feet,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “Belmont are a good team. We have nothing but respect for them.”

The Bruins (1-3) reduced a 12-point deficit to 47-44 late in the third quarter, setting the stage for an electrifying 45-second run from Clark.

She hit an off-balance 3-pointer off the left wing, then nailed another trey off the top of the button in transition. She followed up with a steal and layup to make it 55-44 as the Carver crowd of 8,227 roared.

“Any time we can use the audience to the best of our ability, it’s really, really good,” Clark said. “When we’re doing small runs, it’s Iowa basketball at its best.”

Belmont, last year’s NCAA second-round team and this year’s preseason favorite at the Missouri Valley Conference, had another surge, coming within four points twice in the fourth quarter.

But Czinano hit inside, then Gabbie Marshall drilled a 3-pointer and the Hawkeyes pulled away.

The first half was, quite simply put, a grind. The Hawkeyes led 32-25 at the break, despite shooting 36 percent from the floor. The reason was that it was their turn (took 11 of 13) and the Bruins didn’t at all.

Iowa finished 18 of 23 from the line, Belmont 8 of 11, and Czinano secured a 42-33 rebound advantage for the Hawkeyes.

“One through five, we all did a good job finding our player and banging him out,” Czinano said.

McKenna Warnock added six points and eight boards.

Nikki Baird advanced Belmont by 13 points. Madison Bartley and Sydni Harvey each scored 11 points.

The Hawkeyes travel to Portland, Oregon for the Phil Knight Classic later this week. They face Oregon State in the first round at 7:30 p.m. Iowa time on Friday.

Iowa 73, Belmont 62

AT IOWA CITY

BELMONT (62): Madison Bartley 4-8 3-3 11 Tuti Jones 3-10 2-2 9 Sydni Harvey 4-7 0-0 11 Destinee Wells 4-17 1-2 9 Nikki Baird 5-6 0-0 13 Blair Schoenwald 0-3 0-0 0, Tessa Miller 1-3 2-4 4, Kilyn McGuff 2-3 0-0 5, Kendal Cheesman 0-4 0-0 0, Kate Hollifield 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-62 8-11 62.

IOWA (73): McKenna Warnock 1-5 3-4 6 Kate Martin 2-6 1-2 6 Caitlin Clark 10-18 10-11 33 Gabbie Marshall 2-5 0-0 5 Monika Czinano 4-7 1-2 9 Molly Davis 3-5 0-0 7 Taylor McCabe 0-2 0-0 0 Sydney Affolter 0-3 0-0 0 Addison O’Grady 0-1 0-0 0 Hannah Stuelke 2-5 3-4 7. Totals 24-57 18-23 73.

Belmont 18 7 21 16 – 62

Iowa 18 14 23 18 – 73

3-point goals: Belmont 8:29 (Bartley 0:1, Jones 1:5, Harvey 3:6, Wells 0:4, Baird 3:4, Schonwald 0:3, McGuff 1:2, Cheesman 0:3, Hollifield 0:1) , Iowa 7-24 (Warnock 1-4, Martin 1-3, Clark 3-7, Marshall 1-4, Davis 1-2, Affolter 0-2, McCabe 0-1, Stuelke 0-1). Team fouls: Belmont 21, Iowa 9. Fouled: Harvey. Setbacks: Belmont 34 (Jones, Well 6), Iowa 42 (Czinano 10). assists: 14 Belmont (Well 5), Iowa 11 (Clark 5). steals: Belmont 2 (Jones, Baird), Iowa 4 (Clark 2). Sales: Belmont 6, Iowa 6.

Participation: 8.227.

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