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Stuelke pours in 47, Clark has 27, and No. 2 Iowa beats Penn State

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Hannah Stuelke scored a career-high 47 points, and Caitlin Clark had 27 points as No. 2 Iowa defeated Penn State 111-93 on Thursday night

Clark now has 3,489 career points, moving within 38 points of NCAA women’s basketball career scoring leader Kelsey Plum.

“We were just trying to win the game,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder when asked about Clark’s pursuit of the record. “It’s going to happen. That’s not important. It’s important to win this game.”

Iowa plays at Nebraska on Sunday before hosting Michigan next Thursday,

“I would rather she break it at home,” Bluder said. “Our fans deserve that. But believe me, our No. 1 priority will be to win the game at Nebraska.”

Clark, who was 8 of 23 from the field, had 15 assists for her 56th career double-double, but also committed a career-high 12 turnovers.

Clark, who was not made available in the postgame press conference, was getting the ball to Stuelke, with 11 assists on her 17 field goals.

“She just has confidence in me,” Stuelke said. “She wants to keep me playing at my best.”

Clark had a message for Stuelke when she left the court for the last time.

“She said, ‘I expect you do this every game,’ ” Stuelke said, laughing.

Stuelke had the second-highest scoring game in program history, hitting 17 of 20 shots and going 13 of 21 from the free-throw line. She was fouled 13 times.

“I think my confidence is going to come up a lot,” said Stuelke, who came into the game averaging 12.7 points. “Now I can be more aggressive offensively, so that’s exciting.”

Stuelke continuously got behind Penn State’s defense to get easy baskets.

“Obviously, she’s a great rim-runner,” said Penn State coach Carolyn Kieger. “We were switching ball screens, and she continuously rolled down on our guards. She was, obviously, certainly efficient.”

“I just turn and go,” Stuelke said. “I ran track in high school, so I’m pretty fast. Just turn and go, get down there as fast as I can.”

Iowa (22-2, 11-1 Big Ten) won its fourth consecutive game to stay tied with Ohio State at the top of the conference standings.

Ashley Owusu led Penn State (16-7, 7-5) with 18 points. Leilani Kapinus and Makenna Marisa had 12 points.

Clark struggled in the first quarter, picking up two fouls while shooting just 2 of 7 from the field and committing five turnovers.

“I thought our team did a pretty decent job on Caitlin in the first quarter,” Kieger said. “We got her in foul trouble, and tried attacking her in the second quarter to get her the third foul, but we never really picked it up.”

Clark hit a 3-pointer that started a 12-3 run early in the second quarter for a 35-30 Iowa lead. The Hawkeyes stayed in front after that, closing the half with a 14-5 run to take a 55-44 halftime lead.

Stuelke scored Iowa’s first seven points of the second half as the Hawkeyes opened a 68-49 lead with 6:19 to go in the third quarter.

Kate Martin added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.

BIG PICTURE

Penn State: The Nittany Lions could have used a road win over a top-5 team to help solidify their NCAA tournament resume, but couldn’t get away from the Hawkeyes early when Clark was struggling.

Iowa: Clark seemed out of sorts in the first quarter, but settled down when she started making shots in the second quarter. Stuelke helped the Hawkeyes keep pace with the Nittany Lions until Clark could get going, and continued to dominate Penn State inside in the second half.

UP NEXT

Penn State: At Wisconsin on Sunday.

Iowa: At Nebraska on Sunday.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball