The Iowa women’s basketball team opened up their Big Ten Tournament play with an 83-72 win over Purdue on Wednesday evening.
“It’s always good to have that first one done and over and that you survived and moved on,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. “I think that’s tremendous. And I just think we found a different way to score. When you know, our threes weren’t hitting, we did a great job of penetrating and then finding Monika on the other end of it or getting to the free throw line.”
Hawkeye center Monika Czinano put up 38 points (16-18) and 9 rebounds to lead the way for Iowa. The career night for Czinano wouldn’t be nearly as meaningful to her if it didn’t result in a victory.
“Yeah, I mean, honestly, it feels even better to win,” said Czinano. “Last year, going home early. It wasn’t, wasn’t a feeling I ever want to remember. So I think the most important part, which is that
we have to go back to the hotel and go to bed tonight in Indianapolis. So I’m just really, really excited that we get to keep progressing in the tournament.”
Iowa freshman Caitlin Clark got off to a slow start (1-7 FGA in the first quarter) but still managed to finish with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists.
“I mean, kid’s a great shooter, first time playing a big tournament this,” said Bluder. “You know, the thing is she got herself going by doing other things, you know, not just taking the step back threes, she got herself going by getting to the rim and getting assists. That’s what a
great player does is , you know, their normal games not working for them. They just find
another way to contribute. And she did.”
That ability to find other ways to contribute if her shot isn’t falling is something that her teammates know does wonders for the team’s success.
“I mean she’s just an amazing player all around,” said Czinano. “Like, I have so much confidence in her even when she does have a slow start. I know she’s going to participate and like get in the game in different ways. I know that it’s not going to last. She does really good job of kind of recognizing when one thing isn’t working and being able to adapt and change her game. And that’s something that makes her a really, really good player.”
Czinano, Clark and the rest of the Hawkeyes will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Thursday at approx. 7:30pm ET.