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Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall will return to Iowa women’s basketball in 2023-24
Meanwhile, McKenna Warnock will end her career to focus on dental school
IOWA CITY — The thought of life after basketball didn’t appeal to Kate Martin.
“That idea killed me,” she said. “Six years is a long time, but I’m not ready to start a real job.”
As No. 6 Iowa readied for the climax of the regular season, Martin and Gabbie Marshall both announced Monday that they will take advantage of the option to play a fifth season for the Hawkeyes in 2023-24.
“There are once-in-a-lifetime players like Caitlin (Clark), and there are once-in-a-lifetime leaders like Kate,” Marshall said. “There are no words to describe it.”
Monday’s news, coupled with Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder’s subsequent confirmation that McKenna Warnock will conclude her career after this season to pursue dental school, means that Iowa will operate at the 15-scholarship limit next season.
Martin came to Iowa in 2018 and redshirted her first year due to an ACL injury. So next season will be her sixth in the program.
“For me, it was a no-brainer. I can finish my master’s degree and finish debt-free,” she said. “Plus, I didn’t want to miss on our summer trip (to Italy and Croatia).”
Marshall echoed that.
“It’s a no-brainer for me, too,” she said. “My family is like, ‘You want to stay in college?’ But this place is special to me.”
Martin and Marshall probably will be fourth-year starters next season.
As for this season, well ... the fun is about to hit full steam, with two top-10 opponents, College GameDay coming to town Sunday and a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship within reach.
To get it done, the Hawkeyes (22-5 overall, 14-2 Big Ten) must win at No. 7 Maryland (22-5, 13-3) on Tuesday — tipoff is 7 p.m. at Xfinity Center in College Park, Md. — then must avenge an Feb. 9 loss to No. 2 Indiana (26-1, 16-1) on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Maryland and Indiana are two great teams,” Martin said. “I feel lucky to be where we are at this point.”
Neither task will be easy. Iowa is 0-5 at Maryland since Brenda Frese’s crew joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Iowa picked up a 96-82 win over the Terrapins on Feb. 2. The Hawkeyes jumped to a 56-38 halftime advantage and got monster efforts from Clark (42 points) and Monika Czinano (28), who combined for 27-of-37 shooting from the field.
Maryland bounced back from that setback with four consecutive wins.
Should Iowa win Tuesday, it sets up all sorts of storylines for Sunday.
First of all, ESPN’s College GameDay will be in town. Second, the game has been sold out for nearly three weeks. Third, it’s Senior Day, and Czinano and Warnock will be honored afterward.
And finally, and most importantly, the Hawkeyes can earn a share of the Big Ten title with Indiana.
But only if they win Tuesday first.