Iowa Women's Basketball

Kate Martin 'ate it,' so she and her facemask will remain partners

Iowa women's basketball faces Ohio State at 5 p.m. Thursday

Iowa's Kate Martin (20) pushes past Ohio State's Gabby Hutcherson (2) in the Buckeyes' 84-82 overtime win Jan. 13. The r
Iowa’s Kate Martin (20) pushes past Ohio State’s Gabby Hutcherson (2) in the Buckeyes’ 84-82 overtime win Jan. 13. The rematch is Thursday at Columbus, and Martin — who has suffered a broken nose for the second time — probably will wear her facemask for the remainder of the season. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Kate Martin’s facemask saga will be an extended one.

What was supposed to be a five-week ordeal will now likely last throughout the season, thanks to a recent practice mishap.

“One of the Gray Squad guys threw a beautiful bullet to my face, and I ate it,” said Martin, a sophomore guard for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team.

Martin suffered a broken nose for the second time this season. The first was in a game at Illinois on Jan. 3.

So just when the mask was about to be shed, well ... it will be Martin’s on-court companion probably through the completion of the season.

The Hawkeyes (10-4, 6-4 Big Ten) travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a makeup game with No. 11 Ohio State (10-2, 6-2).

Tipoff is 5 p.m. CT from the Schottenstein Center (BTN).

Martin insisted otherwise, but the mask has been a nuisance.

“It does inhibit her vision,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.

A third-year member of the program, Martin redshirted during the 2018-19 season due to a torn ACL, then was a role player.

This year, she is averaging 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. She is shooting a very respectable 48 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range.

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Much of her value comes from intangibles. Leadership. Toughness. That’s why, even as a sophomore, she is a team captain.

“In our apartment, she’s definitely the toughest one,” said Monika Czinano, this week’s Big Ten player of the week and Martin’s roommate.

“Her room is closer to the front door, so if somebody breaks in, she can go get them first.”

Thursday’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Buckeyes.

It was Ohio State that ended Iowa’s 42-game home winning streak, 84-82 in overtime, Jan. 13.

“Turnovers, for sure,” Caitlin Clark said about the Hawkeyes’ downfall. “I think we’ll be perfectly fine handling the ball (Thursday).”

The return of Dorka Jahusz from injury makes the Buckeyes a challenging puzzle to solve. Her presence gives Ohio State five players who average in double figures.

“They have so many weapons,” Bluder said. “All five of them can shoot the 3-ball.

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“But I think there’s some things we can do to exploit them, nothing that I’m going to share. We’ve worked on our press break extensively.”

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

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