Hawkeye fans show up in Minneapolis for Iowa women’s basketball Big Ten Tournament run

Iowa fans helped set the tournament attendance record for a single game at 9,505, but the Hawkeye players have their own ties to Minnesota.


Matt Sindt

Fans react to a free-throw securing victory during a women’s basketball game between No. 7 Iowa and No. 5 Maryland at Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins, 89-84.

Colin Votzmeyer, Sports Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis is home away from home for Iowa women’s basketball.

Iowa fans covered the Target Center in Minneapolis in black and gold to see the Hawkeyes make a run for their second-straight Big Ten women’s basketball tournament championship.

Their cheers were heard all weekend, leading Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder to dub the center “Carver-Hawkeye Arena North.” The fans played a massive role in boosting the Hawkeyes to a conference championship game win over Ohio State as they set the tournament attendance record for a single game at 9,505. 

But the Hawkeye players are tied to Minnesota, too.

Iowa fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano hails from Watertown, Minnesota — just a half-hour drive west of the Target Center. 

Czinano’s sister, Maggie, is a sophomore guard for the Minnesota women’s basketball team. Although the Gophers exited in the first round, the Czinano family was present to support Monika all weekend — so much so that she forgot how many tickets she handed out to friends and family.

“It was just so special to have this experience here,” Czinano said. “I have all of my family, even teachers that grew up coaching me, just the most random people in my life showed up today to support me, and that’s so special.”

Iowa junior guard Caitlin Clark, who hails from West Des Moines, Iowa, has her own ties to Minnesota — she made the trip to the Target Center as a kid to see her favorite player, former Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore, play.

Years later, Clark and the Iowa women’s basketball team now get to be that same role model for younger girls.

“When I was a little girl, I was in the exact same shoes,” Clark said. “It’s crazy how fast time goes … I can’t think of a group of people that I would want young girls to look up to more.”

She believes the Hawkeye fans in Minnesota have been incredible over the course of the tournament.

“It’s literally home court advantage [when they’re] chanting, ‘Let’s go Hawks’ with 45 minutes left in warmups,” Clark said. “That’s probably pretty intimidating. They’re incredible, but it’s been like that all season long, so we’re really thankful.”

So, when Clark grabbed her 10th rebound to secure the first-ever triple-double in Big Ten women’s basketball tournament history, Hawkeye fans erupted.

“I definitely knew I needed one more, and it was funny that they all started screaming, but [it was] definitely a cool moment for sure,” Clark said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to them.”