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Iowa feels ‘target on our back’ after loss, Caitlin Clark injury

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark talks with coach Lisa Bluder during a game against Southern University on Nov. 7. (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Iowa women’s basketball lost against an unranked team Thursday night, and faced the possible loss of their star player in the process.

The No. 4 Hawkeyes in the country fell 84-83 to Kansas State, despite holding the ball with 3.8 seconds to go in the game. During those final 3.8 seconds, junior guard Caitlin Clark twisted her ankle and had to be helped off the court after the final buzzer.

Clark had rolled the same ankle in Iowa’s season opener against Southern on Nov. 7.

“Do not have any idea,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said of Clark’s status. “She twisted an ankle. She had twisted it earlier. Same one, unfortunately.”

After the loss to Kansas State, Clark was able to join the handshake line, and she exited the arena without help — though with her left ankle iced.

It was the second straight game in which Iowa struggled against an unranked opponent. They took an overtime win against Drake on Sunday, which exposed the team’s struggles with depth.

That depth was exposed once again Thursday. Clark had 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Monika Czinano had 18 points and McKenna Warnock 12. No other Iowa player got to double digits.

“I thought we learned a lesson at Drake,” Bluder said. “We weren’t running the offense well tonight. And we had four offensive rebounds in 40 minutes. That’s not very good.”

Iowa will continue its non-conference slate against Belmont on Sunday before heading to the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland. As they continue, Bluder and the Hawkeyes will continue to adjust to their elite status.

“What I do know is you have a target on your back for everybody else,” the coach said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot, and we better get used to it.”