Iowa women’s basketball ‘supporting cast’ helps lead Hawkeyes to Elite Eight

Behind Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, the Hawkeyes’ other three starters aim to spread out the court — making them harder to defend in the process.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Kate Martin celebrates after a victory over No. 6 Colorado in the 2023 NCAA Sweet Sixteen women’s basketball game at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, WA on Friday, March 24, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buffaloes, 87-77. Martin scored 16 points and recorded six rebounds.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Every star needs a strong supporting cast to be successful.

And Iowa women’s basketball has found powerful supporters in seniors Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin, and McKenna Warnock.

While junior guard Caitlin Clark and fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano command most of the attention, the Hawkeyes’ other three starters extend the floor — making Iowa harder to defend.

Clark led all scorers with 31 points against the Buffaloes on Friday, tacking on eight assists in the process. Czinano finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

But the second-seeded Hawkeyes sure made themselves hard to guard on Friday night as four players finished in double figures in an 87-77 Sweet 16 victory over sixth-seeded Colorado.

“Obviously, teams are going to focus on Caitlin and Monika, as they should,” Marshall said. “But I think it makes it harder to guard and harder to scout when you have three others that can contribute. 

“None of us have the mentality that we’re gonna go out there and have to score 20 or 30 like Monika and Caitlin, but we’re going to impact the game any way we can. Whether that’s defensively, we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impact the game and we’re gonna have to make them guard us.”

Marshall had just seven points on Friday, but she also contributed two steals and a strong half-court pressure on the Buffaloes. 

Martin had a +/- of 17 — the highest of any Hawkeye — on Friday night, knocking down 16 points on 3-of-8 shooting and 2-of-3 beyond the arc. She also converted eight of her 11 free throw attempts.

“You can take away one player, maybe, take away two players, maybe, but when you’ve got five players out on the court that can knock down shots, I mean, that’s really tough to guard,” Martin said. “It’s really hard whenever you spread the court out and you can attack, you can knock down threes. The other team kind of has to pick their poison.” 

Warnock, the final member of the supporting cast, had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting on Friday night. 

And she knows every player on the team has an important role to fill.

“It’s so fun to watch [Clark and Czinano’s] connection, but it’s also really awesome to be with Kate and Gabbie, as well,” Warnock said. “They’re two amazing girls, and I think that our team would not be who we are without either of those girls. So, you know, it’s awesome. I mean, it’s great to sit back and watch them. It’s also great to get in there and do your own little thing, and I think that we’ve done a really good job of embracing our roles.”

With the victory, Iowa will play in its fifth Elite Eight in program history — its second since 2019 — on Sunday at 8 p.m. in Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. It’s the first Elite Eight appearance for every player on the Hawkeye roster other than Czinano and Martin.

But an Elite Eight berth isn’t their goal — the Hawkeyes want to make it to Dallas.

“It’s a dream to get to this position,” Warnock said. “But I think we also know we’re not quite done yet. This isn’t our end goal, so it’s kind of a celebrate and move on type of thing. I mean, we’ll go and scout right now. We’ve had about 20 minutes there, and then we’ll move on.”