Women’s basketball opens regular season against Florida Atlantic

After dominating Sunday’s exhibition match, the team is ready for the increase in competition when facing Florida Atlantic.

Iowa+Forward+Monika+Czinano+attempts+to+steal+the+ball+during+a+Women%27s+basketball+exhibition+game+between+the+University+of+Iowa+and+Winona+State+University+at+Carver+Hawkeye+Arena+on+November+3%2C+2019.+The+Hawkeye%27s+beat+the+Warrior%27s+with+a+score+of++98-53.+

Ryan Adams

Iowa Forward Monika Czinano attempts to steal the ball during a Women’s basketball exhibition game between the University of Iowa and Winona State University at Carver Hawkeye Arena on November 3, 2019. The Hawkeye’s beat the Warrior’s with a score of 98-53.

Ben Payla, Sports Reporter

Sunday’s exhibition stroll was a great feeling for all involved. Back on the court for the first time since March’s Elite Eight match against Baylor, the new look Hawkeyes overcame an early rough patch to win against Division II side Winona State, 98-53.

Turning the page to Thursday’s game against Florida Atlantic, the team expects a much more difficult test overall.

“It will be fun to be able to go against them, and they will be a well coached team,” head coach Lisa Bluder said.

Florida Atlantic is coached by veteran Jim Jabir, who has amassed just under 500 wins in his 30-year career as a head coach. The team is picked to finish 10th in the Conference USA this season as Jabir works on building his program back up, just as he did in his previous job at Dayton University.

Florida Atlantic is coming off a major rebuilding season after going 5-25 overall and 2-14 in conference play. The Owls brought in eight true freshmen last season, the most of any team in the country.

The team returns six players from last season’s team and brought in several newcomers, including Auburn graduate transfer Crystal Primm, who averaged 10.4 points per game with the Tigers last season.

After scoring points in the paint at will against Winona State, the Hawkeyes will be tested more by Florida Atlantic. The Owls have four players who are 6’2 and 10 who are at least six foot, presenting a unique challenge of getting inside. This game will be a true test to see if the team can replace Gustafson’s defensive production.

“At times, I wanted us to have to work a little harder. I wanted us to have to execute our offense longer before we got the shot up,” Bluder said. “I know that will change quickly. [On Sunday] we could get a lot of things because we wanted to.”

Despite her brilliant game offensively, sophomore Monika Czinano and the rest of the Hawkeyes struggled to get rebounds at times against Sunday’s opponent, something she and the rest of the team is aware and ready to work on.

“Working on rebounding in practice is going to be a big thing and just kind of taking it day-by-day,” Czinano said.

Despite giving up a relatively high 72.7 points per game, the Owls forced relatively low shooting percentages at 41.9 from the floor and 30.2 from three last season. With Atlantic boasting lots of size, it is fair to say Iowa’s guards will become crucial in overcoming a size deficit in the paint.

The Hawkeyes shot 33.3 percent on 21 attempts from three in Sunday’s game, but expect more volume to compensate for the size difference.

“I feel like we’re really trying to drive, pitch, and attack people,” said senior Kathleen Doyle. “If we have a good shot, we’re trying to get our teammates a better shot, so that’s what this offense is all about.”

Although Iowa won’t put up 98 points this game, the Hawkeyes should be able to hold Florida Atlantic to a low point total and work on getting guards such as Kathleen Doyle and Gabby Marshall more involved on offense.

Tonight’s game tips off at 6:30 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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