Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball seeks a happier script this time at Michigan

Last 2 trips have included Tania Davis' torn ACL, a late postponement and 2 losses

Iowa's McKenna Warnock (14) swats the ball away as Illinois' Petra Holesinska (13) puts up a shot in their game Dec. 31.
Iowa’s McKenna Warnock (14) swats the ball away as Illinois’ Petra Holesinska (13) puts up a shot in their game Dec. 31. Warnock made her first start Thursday and provided 16 points. The Hawkeyes play at Michigan on Sunday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — For the Iowa women’s basketball team, the last two trips to Michigan have presented their own major Crisler crisis.

In 2017, point guard Tania Davis suffered the first of two knee injuries, a torn ACL that ended her sophomore season prematurely. The Hawkeyes lost, 72-70.

The injury could be dismissed as mere bad luck, a fluke. Last year’s trip to Ann Arbor, though, remains firmly under Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder’s skin.

“It still doesn’t set well with me,” Bluder said Friday.

The Midwest was in the middle of its “polar vortex” in the last week of January last year, when the Hawkeyes were scheduled to fly to Michigan.

“They assured us that if we got there, we would play (as scheduled),” Bluder said.

Instead, Michigan officials postponed the game hours before tipoff.

“We were on the bus, on the way to shootaround, when we got the news they were canceling the game,” Bluder said. “The bad thing was, they still sent their teams out to travel that night.”

The game was played at 11 a.m. (Iowa time) the next day, and Iowa lost, 90-81.

“It was a bad deal,” Bluder said. “We’ve got some bad memories there.”

Bluder and the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes (18-3, 9-1 Big Ten) take a nine-game winning streak — their longest Big Ten run since the 1995-96 team won the conference championship — to Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor for an 11 a.m. tip Sunday against Michigan (13-7, 4-5).

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Sophomore center Monika Czinano, who sprained her ankle Sunday against Michigan State and missed the Hawkeyes’ 77-66 win at Penn State on Thursday, remains questionable.

“She’s a possibility,” Bluder said. “These things can have a sudden burst of recovery, then just kind of stay there for a while.”

Freshman McKenna Warnock got her first start Thursday, and capitalized with 16 points and seven rebounds.

“She played very well,” Bluder said. “She was very composed for a freshman. She really did a nice job, offensively and defensively.”

Bluder was asked if she has allowed herself some time to step back for a moment and relish what her overachieving team has accomplished so far.

The response: No, there’s just no time.

“It’s sad, really,” she said. “We celebrated for about 10 minutes after the game Thursday, then we were on the plane and (the staff was) preparing for Michigan.

“I’d love to wake up and enjoy it, but instead I wake up with nightmares about (Michigan’s) Naz Hillmon.”

Hillmon ranks fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (18.8 points per game) and second in rebounding (9.6 per game).

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

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