Iowa women’s basketball downs Central Florida, 69-61

Caitlin Clark, Monika Czinano, and McKenna Warnock all finished the night in double figures on Saturday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark puts up a shot during a women’s basketball game between No. 14 Iowa and Central Florida in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. Clark led the team in scoring with 21 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Knights, 69-61.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s basketball team defeated University of Central Florida, 69-61, in its first game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in 13 days. 

Three Hawkeyes scored in double figures: sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark put in 21 points, senior center Monika Czinano poured in 19, and junior forward McKenna Warnock registered 13 points.

Clark scored 13 points in the first half on 4-of-10 shooting before going cold in the second half. She finished the game 5-of-18 from the floor, along with 11 rebounds and six assists — her second double-double of the season.

Czinano picked up the slack in the third quarter, scoring eight points in 15 minutes. The Hawkeyes outscored the Knights, 25-12, after the score was knotted at 31 at half.

Big picture

Iowa improved to 6-2 on the 2021-22 season. The Hawkeyes have one more nonconference contest against IUPUI on Tuesday before beginning Big Ten play.

The game marked Iowa’s first in 10 days, after it dropped its Dec. 8 matchup in-state rival Iowa State, 77-70. The Hawkeyes have played just four games since Nov. 17 after COVID-19 cases within the program forced the cancellation of three of Iowa’s games.

“I love going to practice but, you know, games are a lot of fun,” Clark said. “Obviously, our season has been a little up and down with how many games we’ve played and what we’ve had to go through. It’s always special getting to play but especially here in Carver, in front of our fans. That’s the best.”

Czinano efficient

Czinano tallied 12 of her 19 points in the second half, helping the Hawkeyes to a 24-16 advantage in the paint.

Bluder said interior play was a key to playing well against a Central Florida defensive unit that had allowed just 45.9 points per game prior to Saturday.

“You know, I just think we did a good job and I think we spread out their zone and kind of pushed people out,” Bluder said postgame. “I think people try to just win it by shooting threes and we really talked about wanting to win the paint points and we did.”

Czinano credited her teammates in the scoring effort, especially in the third quarter.

“I definitely think we were feeding it into the high post [in the third quarter] and we were able to do high-lows pretty well,” Czinano said.  “Once we got it in the high post, the world kind of opened up for us. So I think my teammates were doing a great job of finding the open side and just kind of leading me to an easy layup.”

Turnover trouble

Iowa committed 23 of the game’s 43 turnovers, including five in the first five minutes.

“They play passing lanes really well,” Bluder said of the UCF defense. “It’s not like they deny you, they’re just in that area. They just really match up in the zone and they’re really big, they’re tall or lanky, they’re athletic. when they trap it’s pretty aggressive. They played really good ball pressure.”

The Hawkeyes forced 20 turnovers of the Knights, scoring 15 points off the takeaways.

Up next

Iowa will take on IUPUI at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday for a 2 p.m. tipoff before a nine-day hiatus.

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