IOWA CITY — The head-to-head, Czinano-vs.-Czinano matchups will be a one-year deal.
The smack talk, that started early.
“When we play Minnesota, it’s all competitive,” Iowa junior Monika Czinano said. “Mom and Dad have to break us up. But it’s all love.
“It’s definitely a fun sibling rivalry.”
Just wait ‘til next year.
Czinano’s younger sister, Maggie, is a senior at Watertown-Mayer (Minn.) High School. She’s also a Minnesota commit.
When she made her decision, Maggie tweeted:
“I’m blessed to announce my commitment to continue my basketball career at the University of Minnesota and play against my sister in the Big Ten! I’m coming for you @MCzinano.”
Monika will be on the court, Maggie in the stands, when the Hawkeyes (9-4, 5-4 Big Ten) and Gophers (5-7, 4-6) collide Sunday.
Tipoff is 4 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Czinano is coming off a 34-point, 11-rebound performance in the Hawkeyes’ 87-80 loss to Northwestern on Thursday. The 6-foot-3 post converted 17 of 19 field-goal attempts, making her first 15.
“(Northwestern) didn’t have an answer for Monika,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “She shot 19 times, and she should have shot 25. Why stop something that was working?”
In many cases, the Hawkeyes stopped themselves. They committed 23 turnovers, leading to 28 Northwestern points.
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“Some of those were self-inflicted,” Bluder said. “Charging fouls. Traveling. Passes that were unforced. It wasn’t their press that bothered us. Not at all.”
Through the past three weeks, this game has looked less and less like a gimme.
After resembling a back-end Big Ten program for the first part of the season, Minnesota has snapped out of it. The Gophers have won three straight games (against Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue), two on the road.
Iowa rallied from a 16-point second-quarter deficit to defeat the Gophers, 92-79, Jan. 6 at Iowa City. Caitlin Clark scored a career-high 37 points in that game.
“They play better at the Barn,” Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes remain among the national leaders offensively; they rank No. 5 in scoring offense at 88.1 points per game.
But they are last in the Big Ten in defense (80.5 points allowed per game), and turnovers (15.9 per game) remain a problem.
“Once we clean that up, we’re going to be in good shape,” Clark said.
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