March 3, 2024 

Big Ten notebook: Caitlin Clark’s record, Penn State’s offense and the Big Ten Tournament

All 14 teams gear up for the Big Ten Tournament

The Big Ten regular season wrapped up on Sunday with all 14 teams in action. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark claimed the headlines when she broke Pete Maravich’s NCAA Division I scoring record, and the Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Ohio State. Also this week, Penn State’s offense turned things back on, Indiana took down Maryland and more.

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Here’s your roundup of Big Ten action from the final week of the regular season.

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What everybody’s talking about: Clark breaks DI scoring record, Iowa snaps Ohio State’s winning streak

It wasn’t as dramatic as one of her logo 3-pointers, but Clark’s free throw with less than one second left in the second quarter of Sunday’s game vaulted her atop the all-time scoring leaderboard for Division I men’s and women’s players. It was part of her 35-point, nine-assist, six-rebound effort as the Hawkeyes halted the Buckeyes’ 15-game winning streak with a 93-83 win.

For Iowa, sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke added 23 points and nine rebounds, while graduate guard Kate Martin had 11 points and nine rebounds. Ohio State was led by graduate guard Jacy Sheldon (24 points, nine assists), graduate forward Rebeka Mikulasikova (14 points, eight rebounds) and junior guard Taylor Thierry (11 points, seven rebounds). 

The Buckeyes had already clinched the Big Ten regular-season title outright after their 67-51 win over Michigan on Wednesday, so they will be the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa finished as the No. 2 seed.

Sunday wasn’t all good news for the Hawkeyes, though. Fifth-year guard Molly Davis had to be helped off the floor during the game and emerged from the locker room in a wheelchair with her right leg wrapped. Her stats might not jump off the page (6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game), but she’s been a key part of Iowa’s offense this year as a facilitator and a 3-point shooter (40.7%).

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This caught my attention: Penn State’s offense turning things around

There hasn’t necessarily been a point this season where Penn State’s offense has been bad. However, during the Lady Lions’ six-game losing streak in February, they averaged 72 points per game, down from their season average of 84.4. A season-ending injury to guard Taylor Valladay combined with tough opponents in Iowa, Maryland and Ohio State threw the Lady Lions into a funk. But they seem to have snapped out of it this week.

On Wednesday against Purdue, Penn State prevailed 93-88, thanks to a 23-point, eight-rebound performance from graduate guard Ashley Owusu and strong showings from guard Makenna Marisa (17 points), guard Jayla Oden (15 points) and guard Leilani Kapinus (14 points, five rebounds). 

Then on Sunday against Minnesota, Penn State dominated 90-34. Kapinus led the way with 23 points and nine rebounds. Owusu added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, and guard Shay Ciezki scored 15.

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Other notable headlines

Indiana denies Maryland an NCAA Tournament resume-boosting win

Maryland had two chances in the last eight days to make its NCAA Tournament position feel less tenuous. But the Terps weren’t able to take down Ohio State on Feb. 25 or Indiana on Sunday. 

In the regular-season finale, the Hoosiers came out firing on all cylinders, opening up a 16-2 lead in the first quarter on their way to a 71-54 win. 

Indiana guard Sara Scalia scored 19 points and added eight rebounds, while guard Yarden Garzon added 17 points and four boards. Mackenzie Holmes left the game in the third quarter with an apparent left leg injury. She returned to the bench near the end of the game, and head coach Teri Moren said afterward that Holmes was having her left knee — which she’s injured several times before — evaluated.

Maryland received 15 points and 13 rebounds from graduate forward Jakia Brown-Turner and 13 points from Bri McDaniel. But the Terps shot just 28.4% from the field and 18.8% from 3-point range. Head coach Brenda Frese’s team will head into the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 8 seed, once again hoping to bolster its NCAA Tournament chances.

Illinois spoils Nebraska’s quest for double bye

With Michigan State having already picked up a 78-52 win over Wisconsin on Sunday, Nebraska needed to beat the Illini to clinch the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois had other ideas.

Twenty points from guard Makira Cook; a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double for Kendall Bostic; and 17 points from guard Genesis Bryant guided the Illini to a 74-73 win. 

After an ugly 87-70 loss at Michigan State on Thursday, the win was a much-needed palate cleanser for Illinois heading into the Big Ten Tournament. 

For the Huskers, the loss means they’ll have to play on Thursday against the winner of Purdue-Northwestern after dropping below the Spartans in the standings.

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Big Ten Tournament tips off on Wednesday

The postseason tournament begins when No. 12 Purdue (12-17; 5-13 Big Ten) faces No. 13 Northwestern (9-20; 4-14 Big Ten) at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Target Center in Minneapolis. The two teams faced off on Feb. 14, with the Boilermakers winning 74-48.

That game will be followed by No. 11 Minnesota (15-14; 5-13 Big Ten) taking on No. 14 Rutgers (8-23; 2-16 Big Ten). The Scarlet Knights beat the Golden Gophers 81-73 on Feb. 13.

The winner of Purdue-Northwestern will face No. 5 Nebraska (19-10; 11-7 Big Ten), while the winner of Minnesota-Rutgers will face No. 6 Michigan (18-12; 9-9 Big Ten).

No. 1 Ohio State (25-4; 16-2 Big Ten) will play its first game on Friday against the winner of No. 8 Maryland (17-12; 9-9 Big Ten) and No. 9 Illinois (14-14; 8-10 Big Ten).

No. 2 Iowa (26-4; 15-3 Big Ten) will play the winner of No. 7 Penn State (18-11; 9-9 Big Ten) and No. 10 Wisconsin (13-15; 6-12 Big Ten).

No. 3 Indiana (24-4; 15-3 Big Ten) will play the winner of Michigan’s matchup with Minnesota or Rutgers.

And No. 4 Michigan State (22-7; 12-6 Big Ten) will play the winner of Nebraska’s matchup with Purdue or Northwestern.

The championship game will take place on Sunday, March 10, at noon ET.

Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel

Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.

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