Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball has fast start, then a lull, then a winning finish against Rutgers

Hawkeyes hold off Rutgers, 90-84, behind McKenna Warnock's return

Iowa guard Kate Martin (20) celebrates with Monika Czinano after hitting a late 3-pointer in the Hawkeyes' 90-84 women's
Iowa guard Kate Martin (20) celebrates with Monika Czinano after hitting a late 3-pointer in the Hawkeyes’ 90-84 women’s basketball win over Rutgers on Thursday. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — That’s Warnock, sounds like warrior.

So says Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder.

“She’s such a warrior,” Bluder said. “I’m happy she was back. She was a big factor for us.”

After missing the previous game with a mild ankle sprain, McKenna Warnock was back Thursday afternoon, and ignited Iowa to a 90-84 Big Ten women’s basketball game victory over Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Warnock hit four first-quarter 3-pointers and finished with 18 points as Iowa (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) won its 41st straight game at Carver.

The Hawkeyes built a 20-point first-half lead, lost it, then prevailed at the end despite 19 turnovers that led to 33 Rutgers points.

When the Hawkeyes held onto the ball, they shot 61 percent (30 of 49) from the field, including 12 of 22 from long distance.

Warnock was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, 6 of 9 overall.

“She can stretch the floor really well,” Monika Czinano said. “That opens everything up for us. We’re really happy to have her back.”

Freshman Caitlin Clark led the Hawkeyes with 28 points, added six rebounds and six assists, but was guilty of eight turnovers.

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“We had a couple of lapses in which one turnover led to another,” Clark said. “We need to make the easy pass instead of the hard pass. We’ll get it cleaned up.”

After Warnock’s early eruption helped stake Iowa to a 32-12 lead early in the second quarter, Rutgers (5-2, 1-2) stormed back within 42-40 by halftime — “We got a little panicky,” Bluder said — and took leads of 52-51 and 54-53 in the third quarter.

But Gabbie Marshall swished back-to-back 3-pointers for a 59-54 Iowa advantage, and the Hawkeyes led the rest of the way.

The Scarlet Knights got within 71-70, then the teams basically traded jabs the rest of the way. After Clark scored eight straight Iowa points, she located Kate Martin for a 3-point dagger that made it 84-78 with 37 seconds left.

“We called for a ball screen from Monika, and I heard Kate in the corner,” Clark said. “I knew she was going to knock it down. That was a big shot when we really needed it.”

All five starters reached double figures for the Hawkeyes. Czinano added 17 points, Martin 12, Marshall 10.

But Warnock’s return was key.

“It was great to be back,” she said. “Injuries are never fun.

“Everybody just found me. They were difficult passes. They had open eyes on the floor, and that definitely helped.”

Iowa’s balance neutralized a 34-point effort from Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes, one of the early-season frontrunners, along with Clark and Michigan’s Naz Hillmon, for Big Ten player of the year.

“She’s probably a first-round WNBA pick,” Bluder said of Guirantes.

The Hawkeyes play at Illinois at 1 p.m. Sunday.

IOWA 90, RUTGERS 84

At Iowa City

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RUTGERS (84): Mael Gillis 6-10 0-0 14, Tyia Singleton 1-1 0-0 2, Zipporah Broughton 0-3 0-0 0, Arella Guirantes 10-20 9-9 34, Tekia Mack 4-12 2-2 12, Diamond Johnson 6-11 4-4 18, Chyna Cornwell 0-0 0-0 0, Sakima Walker 2-3 0-1 4, Liz Martino 0-0 0-0 0, Erica Lafayette 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-60 15-16 84.

IOWA (90): McKenna Warnock 6-9 1-1 18, Monika Czinano 6-10 5-5 17, Kate Martin 4-4 3-4 12, Caitlin Clark 8-16 9-11 28, Gabbie Marshall 4-7 0-0 10, Alexis Sevillian 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Jensen 1-1 0-0 3, Sharon Goodman 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-49 18-21 90.

Halftime: Iowa 42, Rutgers 40. 3-point goals: Rutgers 11-27 (Gilles 2-4, Broughton 0-1, Guirantes 5-11, Mack 2-7, Johnson 2-4), Iowa 12-22 (Warnock 5-7, Martin 1-1, Clark 3-8, Marshall 2-5, Jensen 1-1). Team fouls: Rutgers 22, Iowa 15. Fouled out: Gilles, Johnson. Rebounds: Rutgers 22 (Gilles, Mack 6), Iowa 29 (Warnock 9). Assists: Rutgers 17 (Mack 6), Iowa 18 (Clark, Marshall 6). Steals: Rutgers 15 (Guirantes 4), Iowa 4 (Martin 2). Turnovers: Rutgers 14, Iowa 19.

Attendance: 328.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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