Looking back at a strong regular season for Iowa women’s basketball

After a rocky start, the Hawkeyes turned it around for another quality season.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa graduating seniors Kathleen Doyle, Makenzie Meyer, Amanda Ollinger, and Paula Valiño Ramos pose with head coach Lisa Bluder after a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. On Iowa’s Senior Night, the Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 90-82.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

At Iowa women’s basketball media day, head coach Lisa Bluder said the Hawkeyes had a mission to prove people wrong after they lost three seniors — including the national player of the year — to graduation after making the Elite Eight.

After finishing with the same 23-6 overall record and 14-4 Big Ten record as last season’s team during regular season play, it’s safe to say that the Hawkeyes did just that. They finished third in the Big Ten and will start play in the Big Ten Quarterfinals on Friday in Indianapolis.

It didn’t look like things would be this smooth at the start of the season. Choppiness and turnovers defined the first game of the season against Florida Atlantic Nov. 7. Then, a battle ensued with North Alabama Nov. 14 that resulted in a tight victory.

When Iowa went up to Cedar Falls Nov. 17, the Hawkeyes were demolished by Northern Iowa, 88-66.

Bluder said that, at the beginning of the season, this was not a good team.

But it did go up from there. The Hawkeyes went 2-1 in the Puerto Rico Classic from Nov. 27-30, and then went on to defeat Clemson, Iowa State in Ames, North Carolina Central, and Drake to finish the non-conference season with a 9-2 record.

Though their first conference game was a loss at Nebraska, the Hawkeyes came roaring back and scored 108 points in a victory over Illinois on New Year’s Eve.

Then came the three-game stretch that defined the season so far. The Hawkeyes went to Northwestern, who are seeded No.2 in the Big Ten Tournament, and defeated them, 77-51, on Jan. 5. Maryland, the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, came to Iowa City the following game and lost to the Hawkeyes, 66-61.

The No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana, followed that game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Though the Hoosiers did take it to double-overtime, the Hawkeyes prevailed, 91-85.

Since the schedule of the Big Ten Season is tough in January and February, Bluder said that team is now prepared for the competitive Big Ten Tournament.

After that, the winning would continue for five more games until a loss at Michigan Feb. 2. From there on out, the Hawkeyes went 5-2, which included some blowout wins and a blowout loss at Maryland.

RELATED: Doyle named Big Ten Player of the Year

Obviously, some key players have played a role in the Hawkeyes’ success. Senior guard Kathleen Doyle leads the team with 18.2 points per game.

Her performance has led to multiple Big Ten Honors this season, and she was named the Naismith Women’s Player of the Week Jan. 14. She is also on the watch list for the 2020 Wade Trophy, which is given to the best player in Division I women’s basketball.

On Monday, she was named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Other seniors that helped were guard Makenzie Meyer and forward Amanda Ollinger. Meyer leads the team with 75 3-pointers, while Ollinger leads the team in rebounds with 249.

Sophomore center Monika Czinano has been huge for the Hawkeyes, as well. Out of players that took a considerable number of shots, she led the team with a 69.9 field goal percentage and is averaging 15.6 points per game.

Though Bluder isn’t surprised of the performance from her seniors, she said that she couldn’t have seen the level of performance that Czinano has exhibited before the season started.

The opponents the Hawkeyes could play on Friday are No. 6 seed Ohio State, No .11 seed Minnesota, or No. 14 seed Penn State.