Hawkeyes dominate Panthers to open the season after losing in Cedar Falls last year

The Iowa women’s basketball team lost by double-digits to UNI last season, but handed the Panthers a 96-81 loss this time around.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor


Directly before the Iowa women’s basketball team took the floor at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday to open its 2020-21 season, the Hawkeye men’s team played on the same court and won a game it was expected to dominate.

The women’s team faced a bigger challenge in game No. 1 of the new season.

Iowa defeated UNI, 96-81, in the season opener, a year after the Panthers defeated the Hawkeyes by 20 points in Cedar Falls.

“This one feels good to get back,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We had kind of sat on that one for a while after last year.”

The Hawkeyes extended their winning streak at Carver to 37 games with the victory, but did so in front of a limited crowd that only included family members of players and coaches because of COVID-19 attendance restrictions.

Bluder compared the environment for the game to competing in a scrimmage. The Hawkeyes on the court did their best to adjust to the oddly-quiet Carver.

“You don’t really notice it I guess,” sophomore forward McKenna Warnock said. “You kind of tune out the fans, even when they are in the stadium. I thought our bench did a really nice job of bringing the energy too. It was different, but it wasn’t something we couldn’t handle.”

“It’s definitely a different atmosphere,” center Monika Czinano said. “We’ve been scrimmaging our practice players, and that’s great, but to actually be playing a different team for the first time was amazing. It was a lot of fun and a good way to start the season out.”

Warnock posted a double-double in her first game of the new season. The Marshall, Wisconsin, native scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while also dishing out six assists. Czinano added 19 points of her own.

But the biggest star of the night was Iowa freshman Caitlin Clark. The highly sought-after recruit scored 27 points, and recorded eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals in her Hawkeye debut to lead the team to victory.

Iowa dominated the game from the opening tip. The Hawkeyes outscored the Panthers by 10 in the first quarter and held a 43-36 lead at halftime. Iowa extended its advantage in the second half. At one point in the fourth quarter, Iowa led by as many as 25 points.

Quite the change from last season’s matchup between the teams.

The Hawkeyes won seven of their next eight games after the blowout loss at the hands of the Panthers last season. The loss woke Iowa up. This time around, the Hawkeyes hope this early-season victory gives them momentum as the team already heads into conference play next week.

“We were definitely really motivated,” Czinano said.  “You never want to lose like you did last year at UNI. And we knew we had a shot with them at our home court. Even without fans, we just knew we really had to bring it to them. There’s the added emphasis of this being our first game. All those things put together led to the score tonight.”

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