Czinano leads Iowa women’s basketball to win over Purdue in Big Ten Tournament

Junior center Monika Czinano tallied a career-high 38 points Wednesday night to help Iowa beat Purdue and advance to the Big Ten quarterfinals.


Kate Heston

Iowa’s Monkia Czinano (25) reached her personal record of 38 points in one game during a second round game of the Big 10 women’s basketball tournament. Iowa, ranked #6, took on #11 Purdue in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes beat the Boilermakers, 83-72, advancing the Hawks to take on Rutgers Thursday night in the Big 10 quarterfinals.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS – On Wednesday night, newly minted Big Ten Freshman of the Year Caitlin Clark made her official postseason debut in the 2021 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Uncharacteristically, Clark started 0-of-6 from the field before she hit a 3-point buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter.

While Clark struggled, junior center Monika Czinano picked up the slack. The 6-foot-3 center went 5-of-5 from the field in the first quarter, scoring 10 of the Hawkeyes’ first 17 points.

“It’s huge,” head coach Lisa Bluder said of Czinano’s first quarter efforts. “Obviously, that’s incredibly important that Monika had such a special night.”

Czinano’s second 30-point game of her career propelled sixth-seeded Iowa to an 83-72 win over 11th-seeded Purdue. The Hawkeyes have now beaten the Boilermakers twice on the season, as Iowa won the first matchup between the two teams, 87-81, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City Jan. 18.

In total, Czinano scored a career-high 38 points on 16-of-18 shooting from the floor Wednesday. The Watertown, Minnesota, native made her first 10 field goal attempts and was one rebound short of a double-double when the final buzzer sounded.

Czinano’s 65.7 percent season-long field goal percentage is the best in all of NCAA Division I Women’s College Basketball. Her 89 percent shooting performance Wednesday night is good for second-best all-time in a Big Ten Tournament game.

Czinano attributes her career night to the efforts of her teammates — some of which helped Iowa rack up 21 assists Wednesday.

“Anytime our guards drove, they had a lot of help crashing in on the paint,” Czinano said. “So, I was able to kind of relocate, and the guards were making some great passes out to me — slides in the lane, elbow shots, short corner shots, those kinds of things were really open. So, I’m really glad that the guards were able to make those passes and I was able to knock them down.”

Last season, Czinano and the Hawkeyes earned a No. 3 seed and a coveted double-bye for the 2020 Big Ten Tournament. Despite the favorable seeding, Iowa was bounced by then-No. 6 seed Ohio State, 87-66, in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

Then, the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled because of COVID-19. So, Czinano has been dealing with the bitter taste of an upset postseason loss for about a year.

Given that context, Czinano is more appreciative of Iowa’s opportunity to compete and win than she is of her own individual accomplishments.

“Honestly, it feels even better to win,” Czinano said. “Last year, going home early was not a feeling I ever want to remember. So, I think the most important part is just that we get to go back to the hotel, go to bed tonight in Indianapolis, so I’m just really excited that we get to keep progressing in the tournament.”

Iowa’s next tournament game will come Thursday evening, as the Hawkeyes take on third-seeded Rutgers at approximately 8 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports 2.

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