Sports

Heartbreak in Columbus: How a Missed Free Throw Cost Iowa the Game

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The #2 Iowa Hawkeyes, soaring high on Caitlin Clark’s supernova brilliance, crashed to earth in overtime Sunday afternoon, their 18-game winning streak shattered by the #18 Ohio State Buckeyes in a heart-stopping 100-92 thriller. The sold-out Value City Arena pulsated with the energy of a heavyweight championship fight, and the Hawkeyes, fueled by Clark’s 45-point masterpiece, seemed poised for another victory lap.

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Clark, a National Player of the Year contender, was a one-woman wrecking crew, her every shot a bolt of lightning splitting the Buckeye defense. Yet, the underdog Buckeyes, led by the gritty Cotie McMahon (33 points), refused to be cowed. They clawed their way back, each basket a defiant roar against the seemingly inevitable Hawkeye dominance.

Iowa, accustomed to dictating the tempo, found themselves in a dogfight. The lead changed hands like a hot potato, the tension thick enough to cut with a butter knife. When the final buzzer echoed, leaving the score tied at 83, it felt like a collective gasp escaped the lungs of the 18,809 fans.

Overtime was a nerve-wracking ballet of missed opportunities. Iowa, without the services of Hannah Stuelke, who fouled out late in regulation, struggled to find their rhythm. The Buckeyes, seizing the moment, capitalized on Hawkeye miscues, their three-pointers finding the net with uncanny precision. McMahon, a warrior in scarlet and gray, delivered the final dagger, a clutch shot that sent the crowd into a delirious frenzy.

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hawkeye Hearts Undimmed

The Hawkeyes, their wings clipped for the first time in months, walked away with their heads held high. Clark, a scoring machine who has rewritten the record books, remained a beacon of unwavering determination. Her 48th career game with 30+ points, the most in men’s or women’s college basketball history over the past 25 seasons, was a testament to her sheer brilliance.

This loss, though stinging, is merely a bump in the road for a team that has rewritten the narrative of Hawkeye basketball. They have helped sell out or break attendance records in 29-of-32 venues this season, a testament to their electrifying brand of play. They have redefined dominance, scoring 80+ points in 16 contests this year and boasting the most games with 90+ points in the nation since 2020.

The Hawkeyes may have stumbled momentarily, but their spirit remains unbroken. They are a team forged in fire, fueled by the indomitable spirit of Caitlin Clark and the unwavering belief of their fans. This loss is not the end, but a new chapter, a chance to rise again, stronger and more determined than ever. The sky is still the limit for these soaring Hawkeyes, and their next flight promises to be even more breathtaking.

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