One half into their game vs. No. 3 UConn, it seemed like Iowa had figured things out. After losing to Kansas State, going to overtime against Drake and just getting by Belmont last week, the Hawkeyes looked dominant against the Huskies. Caitlin Clark was getting to the rim at will and the team was able to limit Azzi Fudd two points.

Then it all fell apart.

After Fudd went berserk  in the third quarter, going 7-of-7 from the field in that span, the Hawkeyes dropped their lead and weren’t able to mount a comeback against the injury-ridden Huskies.

“I thought [head coach Lisa Bluder] did a great job of talking about the things we could’ve controlled,” Jensen said of Bluder’s postgame speech to the Hawkeyes. “But she also said, ‘This isn’t about winning today. This is about getting us ready for a March run.’

“They have to use this disappointment, as this confidence,” Jensen added. “And now, where do we take this? We know what we’ve done competing against supposedly one of the top 4-5 teams in the country.”

Before the team can think about March, it needs to figure out how to win without relying completely on Caitlin Clark and Monika Czianno. After Clark’s strong first half, UConn’s defense was able to hone in on her while they took out Czianno by pre-rotating and doubling her whenever she touched the ball.

“I think our transition offense was tremendous,” Clark said. “They adjusted well in the second half and really had people back, but they also made a lot more shots.”

When Clark and the rest of the team are clicking, the offense is able to run smoothly. They are averaging 0.952 points per possession in the half court while Clark and Czianno haven’t missed a beat since last season. However, it’s the supporting cast around them that will determine their fate come March.

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Gabby Marshall, Kate Martin and McKenna Warnock are going to have to be consistent for four quarters if Iowa is going to get over the hump. Martin looked spectacular against UConn, scoring a career-high 20 points but Marshall and Warnock went 8-for-23 from the field against the Huskies. Against the best teams in the country, it’s hard to overcome that from two of your starters.

Then there is Molly Davis, who has come in to be a primary backup to Clark. However, she hasn’t been able to contribute as much this season off the ball and Clark has played 32.4 minutes per game this year, which ranks in the 98th percentile among all players in the country per Her Hoops State.

“She’s crafty, she’s deceiving, she’s a smart basketball player,” Bluder told Just Women’s Sports. “So I’m very, very excited. I think that’s going to be an X-factor that people haven’t figured out with our team yet.”

Clark agreed.

“I think it’s going to help us in a lot of ways — number one, handling the ball,” she says. “We’ve never really had a true backup point guard. When you’re in high-pressure games, I didn’t really get a chance to get a breather quick. So it’s a huge addition for us. But at the same time, we can play together, which I think is going to be a really interesting dynamic.”

Davis may be more important when Big Ten play opens up and Clark needs more of a breather. However, Iowa needs something from the complementary pieces around her and Czianno. Iowa’s best chance at a title comes with Clark and Czianno running a two-person game that opens up the floor for the rest of the team.

“When you get into the tournament, there’s going to be things that don’t go your way,” Clark told Just Women’s Sports. “Shots aren’t going to fall, and you need to find another way to win. It’s focusing on everything else that you can do to get better and not let that happen again.”