Iowa Women's Basketball

For Iowa women's basketball, there's no easing into this season

Hawkeyes open at home Wednesday with UNI, which whipped them 88-66 last year

UNI Coach Tanya Warren talks with players during last year's 88-66 win over Iowa at Cedar Falls. The Panthers face the H
UNI Coach Tanya Warren talks with players during last year’s 88-66 win over Iowa at Cedar Falls. The Panthers face the Hawkeyes on Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A typical women’s basketball season for the Iowa Hawkeyes might start with a cupcake or two, an opportunity to gain some confidence and establish depth.

Of course, this is no typical season. And Northern Iowa is no cupcake.

UNI, which kicked the Hawkeyes around the McLeod Center last year, invades Carver-Hawkeye Arena to tip off the new season. Game time is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“They have five starters back, so on paper, they should be the lead team here,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “They’re really good. They took it to us pretty good last year.”

Pretty good? How about 88-66? The Panthers led by 30 late and beat the Hawkeyes for the first time in 13 years. It turned out to be Iowa’s second-worst loss of a 23-7 season.

Now the scene shifts to Carver, where the Hawkeyes have won 36 straight games. They’ll try to extend that with a young, deep roster.

“I like our depth, and I like our balance,” Bluder said. “We have so many weapons we can go to.”

Chief among them is junior post Monika Czinano, a preseason all-Big Ten selection. Czinano averaged 16.0 points per game last season, and her 69.7-percent field-goal accuracy was second best in the nation.

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Bluder indicated Monday that Czinano will be joined in the starting lineup by sophomores Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and McKenna Warnock and freshman Caitlin Clark.

UNI returns 73.2 percent of its scoring from last year, led by the trio of Karli Ricker, Kam Finley and Megan Maahs, and adds a strong all-Iowa class of six freshmen.

“Those freshmen, I think a lot of them will make an impact this season,” Bluder said. “They only have (two out-of-state players) on their roster, and this will mean a lot to them.

“They’re going to bring intensity, and we need to match it.”

Attendance will be limited Wednesday to four tickets per player and coach.

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

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