Iowa women’s basketball grateful for sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd

Tickets for the first and second rounds of the national tournament at Carver sold out in just 53 minutes on Monday.


Emily Nyberg

Iowa fans gather for ESPN College GameDay before a basketball game between No.9 Iowa and No. 2 Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Before 9 a.m. on Monday morning, fans lined up at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a chance at some first and second round tickets to the NCAA Tournament.

And when Iowa women’s basketball head coach Jan Jensen heard about it, she knew she wanted to do something special for them. 

So, she grabbed a couple extra donuts with her morning coffee run.

“I had my staff saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so cool, there’s such a long line,’” Jensen said at a media availability on Thursday. “And I just thought, you know, what’s a little fun thing to thank them? I wish I could thank every 1,000th fan that bought tickets or has seen us play this year. But I just was thinking it’d be kind of a fun thing where you’re standing in line. So I called our staff and I said, ‘Hey, meet me up in about five minutes.’”


As Jensen and assistant coach Raina Harmon handed out Dunkin’ Donuts to fans in line, head coach Lisa Bluder was concerned that those who made the trek to Carver-Hawkeye Arena wouldn’t get tickets to the games.

Iowa women’s basketball season-ticket holders got first dibs to seats for the NCAA Tournament, and around 10,000 tickets were already sold by the time the general sale started on Monday.

“Lisa was worried for a second,” Jensen said. “She was like, ‘What if they don’t get tickets?’ And I said, ‘Well if they don’t, you know, a donut always makes someone feel better.’ But they all got tickets, so that made it even more fun.”

Some fans online, however, didn’t have as much luck.

Junior guard Caitlin Clark said every ticket was in a cart 13 minutes after they went on sale on Monday morning. By 9:53 a.m., the tickets were all officially processed and sold.

“I think it just shows the excitement in our community about women’s basketball, and that’s the excitement that it could be like that all around the country,” Clark said. “And it should be like that because there are a lot of amazing women’s basketball teams at the college and pro level.

“… The support for this team and this program that coach Bluder has built here is unreal. So you never take for granted getting to run out on to a court with 15,000 people screaming for you. And we need to use that to our advantage.”

Iowa’s raucous crowd will surely be an advantage against its first opponent in the NCAA Tournament, 15th-seeded Southeastern Louisiana, who plays in the Southland Conference. 

The Lions’ average home attendance is just 455, and the largest crowd they played in front of was 6,592 at LSU.

“I’m very, very grateful to be the coach here where people really respect what we’re doing and people are excited about what we’re doing, and we bring joy to people that watch us,” Bluder said. “I know there’s a lot of people that couldn’t get tickets to this game, and they’re going to be watching on TV and completely vested in this game. … We want to give them a good show this weekend.”

The Hawkeyes and the Lions will tip off at approximately 3 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday. The game will air on ESPN.