Monika Czinano key in Iowa women’s basketball’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal victory over Northwestern

The senior center led the Hawkeyes with 21 points as they took down the Wildcats, 72-59, in the Big Ten Tournament.


Gabby Drees

Iowa center Monika Czinano and Northwestern forward Courtney Shaw tip off at the beginning of a basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 7 Northwestern during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, on Friday, March 4, 2022. The Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats, 72-59.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS —The second-seeded Iowa women’s basketball team defeated No. 7 Northwestern on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Hawkeyes’ 72-59 victory over the Wildcats earned them a berth to the tournament semifinals on Saturday.

Northwestern senior guard Veronica Burton attempted to put the Wildcats on her back, but ultimately it was not enough to stave off the Hawkeyes. 

The 2022 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year put up a valiant effort in the loss, as Burton scored 25 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Burton was also a pest on the defensive end, racking up three steals and two blocks.

“Not only is she a great basketball player, but she’s a great person, a great competitor, and I love going up against her,” Iowa sophomore Caitlin Clark said of Burton. “Obviously, they make things challenging for me and this team every single time we play.”

Iowa’s defense suffocated the Northwestern offensive, as the Hawkeyes forced the Wildcats to shoot 28 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.

Clark, the Big Ten Player of the Year, picked up right where she left off in the regular season. Clark finished with a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 38 minutes. Clark also dished out six assists and blocked three shots. 

Overall, eight Hawkeyes scored on Friday night. The Hawkeyes registered 10 bench points.

“My teammates were scoring the ball pretty well, so I was looking for them more, and I knew that’s how we’re going to win the game,” Clark said. “It couldn’t just be me and Monika, it had to be other people. I think getting them involved is important, but I take pride in doing a lot of different things for this team.”

Big Picture

For Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, the Hawkeyes’ victory over Northwestern was crucial in Iowa’s pursuit of a hosting spot at the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

The top 16 overall seeds in the national tournament host the first two rounds at campus sites.

Iowa last hosted the first two rounds of the tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the 2018-19 season.

“This is a team that I feel should be hosting,” Bluder said. “I’m excited about the opportunity because Hawkeye fans are amazing. We just had 15,000 fans at our last game, and the last time we hosted, we broke the NCAA record for most attended ever in women’s basketball for the first and second rounds. It was over 23,000.”

A Monument in the Middle

Senior center Monika Czinano was dominant in the paint tonight for the Hawkeyes. Czinano scored a team-high 21 points on a staggering 9-of-12 shooting from the floor.

“You know, that kid is amazing,” Bluder said. “And Caitlin gets a lot of attention, but Monika Czinano led the country in field goal percentage shooting last year and I don’t know how people forget that. I mean 9 for 12, she probably thinks that’s a bad night. She is just an amazing scorer, and she’s so efficient.”

Up Next

The Hawkeyes will take on sixth-seeded Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament semifinal on Saturday at 5 p.m. 

Iowa swept Nebraska during the 2021-22 season with  two wins that included victory margins of nine and 10, respectfully.

The Hawkeyes will play at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The game will be aired on Big Ten Network.