Iowa women’s basketball forward McKenna Warnock limited after return to action

The senior, who played 27 minutes in her return against Maryland on Thursday, missed two games after injuring her rib cage on Jan. 18.


Grace Smith

Iowa forward McKenna Warnock shoots the ball during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Southern University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. Warnock shot 2-of-6 in the field. The Hawkeyes defeated the Jaguars, 87-34.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball forward McKenna Warnock, rib cage padding and all, returned to action on Thursday night after missing two games because of a rib injury.

“I have padding all around,” Warnock said following Iowa’s 96-82 win over Maryland. “So, I just kind of feel like a little muffin.”

Warnock injured her ribs while absorbing a screen against Michigan State in East Lansing on Jan. 18. The three-year starter missed Iowa’s next two games against No. 2 Ohio State and Nebraska, but she returned to the starting lineup against No. 8 Maryland.

Senior guard Molly Davis started in place of Warnock for those two games, giving the Hawkeyes a four-guard lineup — Davis, junior Caitlin Clark, and seniors Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall — to supplement fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano.

Freshman forward Hannah Stuelke also came off the bench to make up for some of Warnock’s minutes. Davis scored eight total points in the two games Warnock was out, while Stuelke scored 20.

Warnock is the Hawkeyes’ third-leading scorer with 11.5 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the field. She also grabs six rebounds per game.

“I just wanted to get back as fast as I could,” Warnock said postgame. “And what a great game to come back to, honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better game. I’m just kind of pushing through and taking it day-by-day and I’m excited to contribute something.”

Warnock practiced for the first time since her injury on Wednesday — the day before the Hawkeyes took on the Terrapins. Head coach Lisa Bluder didn’t decide until the morning of the game that Warnock would start.

The 6-foot-1 forward played 27 minutes in her return to action on Thursday night, contributing three points on 1-of-3 shooting, three assists, and six rebounds.

“Probably a little bit more minutes than I thought we would play her,” Bluder said on a Zoom press conference Friday of Warnock’s 27 minutes.”Now know she wants to play, right, but I played her probably a little bit too much last night. I did not know for sure until shootaround that she would be — that’s when I decided she would start.”

The No. 6 Hawkeyes, who are second in the Big Ten with a 10-1 conference record, are on a two-game road trip before they return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 12.

Iowa will travel to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State on Sunday at 11 a.m. Then, the Hawkeyes will head to Bloomington, Indiana, to play the Big Ten-leading, fourth-ranked Indiana Hoosiers on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Warnock will be available for the Hawkeyes’ game against Penn State on Sunday, but Bluder said she’s not sure how much she’ll play.

“I’m not sure if she’ll be full speed or not,” Bluder said of Warnock’s availability for Iowa’s game against Penn State. “But I’m hoping that she’ll play. I know she was pretty sore after the game last night, but I think she’ll play against Penn State. Again, I’m not sure how much, and I don’t think she’ll be full speed. I don’t think she was full speed last night.”

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