Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball: Hawkeyes have been clutch at crunch time

Iowa has outscored its last four opponents, 94-51, in the fourth quarter

Iowa's Amanda Ollinger (43) and McKenna Warnock (14) celebrate after drawing a foul during the Hawkeyes' win over Michig
Iowa's Amanda Ollinger (43) and McKenna Warnock (14) celebrate after drawing a foul during the Hawkeyes' win over Michigan State on Sunday. If Monika Czinano is unable to play Thursday (she suffered a sprained ankle Sunday), Ollinger and Warnock will be represent the Hawkeyes' key characters in the paint against Penn State. (David Harmantas/Freelance)

IOWA CITY — Lisa Bluder credits her senior guards for the Iowa Hawkeyes’ recent series of fourth-quarter surges.

She also credits Lindsay Dinkelman, strength and conditioning coordinator.

“Lindsay works with them in the summer, and she has had a huge impact,” Bluder said Wednesday.

In the fourth quarter of their last four games, the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes (17-3, 8-1 Big Ten) have outscored their opponents by a 94-51 margin:

Trailing Minnesota, 66-57, entering the final period Jan. 16 at Minneapolis, the Hawkeyes roared back to win, 76-75, on Alexis Sevillian’s late 3-pointer.

 At Wisconsin three days later, the big surge (27-11) actually came in the third quarter, but the Hawkeyes closed it out with a 23-17 fourth and defeated the Badgers, 85-78.

 Iowa ruled the fourth quarter by a 24-16 margin in a 77-68 victory over Ohio State last Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

 Then Sunday, McKenna Warnock scored 15 points in the last 5:31 to help the Hawkeyes race past Michigan State, 74-57. Iowa ruled the finale, 28-9.

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Obviously, the Hawkeyes are conditioned. And that is half of “strength and conditioning.”

Owners of a one-game lead in the Big Ten race at the midpoint of the league schedule, the Hawkeyes face last-place Penn State (7-13, 1-8) at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pa.

“Everybody looks at their record and thinks they’re not a good team,” Bluder said of the Nittany Lions. “That is so not true.”

This is true: Iowa’s record through 20 games (17-3) is better than it was last year (16-4).

“If you’d told me that before the season, I probably would have told you that you were crazy,” Bluder said. “A lot of people would have said that’s a silly statement.”

The 17-3 mark matches that of the 2014-15 Sweet 16 team as Iowa’s best 20-game start in Bluder’s 20 seasons.

Monika Czinano suffered a sprained right ankle in the third quarter of the Michigan State game. Her availability at Penn State will be determined at Thursday’s shootaround.

“It’s not quite as bad as we thought,” Bluder said. “She’s still day-to-day at the point.”

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If Czinano can’t go, Warnock will join the starting lineup and will share post duties with Amanda Ollinger.

“It will probably mean more minutes for Kate Martin and possibly Logan Cook as well,” Bluder said.

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

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