Monika Czinano, McKenna Warnock finish Iowa women’s basketball careers in national championship game

While the two seniors will no longer be Hawkeye players, they plan to watch the team from afar next season.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark hugs center Monika Czinano during the NCAA Tournament national championship game against LSU on Sunday, April 2, 2023. The Hawkeyes lost to the Tigers, 102-85.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

DALLAS — When fifth-year senior center Monika Czinano fouled out of the national championship game with six minutes remaining, she made sure to give junior guard Caitlin Clark a long hug before leaving the court.

For the law firm — as fans like to call them — it was the end of an era.

“I was really bummed that somebody who has made me a really, really good player had to spend the six minutes on the bench,” Clark said. “Somebody who has given so much to our program … I think we’re one of the best post-guard duos to play the game, and I’m just really lucky and grateful to have had these years together.”

Over three seasons together, Czinano and Clark grew into a daunting post-duo machine. Czinano was the recipient of many of Clark’s passes, racketing up the point guard’s assist count.

This season, the duo hit a new level. Clark set a Big Ten record 327 assists — many of them to Czinano for an easy layup in the paint.

“I told her after the game, ‘I’m nothing without you.’” Clark said. “She’s made me a better person, a better basketball player. And I’m just really lucky that I was able to play with Mon and share a lot of really fun moments with her.”

Czinano finished her final game as a Hawkeye with 13 points and six rebounds in just 22 minutes of action. 

Senior McKenna Warnock also finished her Hawkeye career on Sunday night, fouling out with under two minutes left in the game. While Warnock notched nine points and six rebounds, she took her fifth foul to stop the clock near the end of the game.

“You’re looking at Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock and thinking, oh my gosh, I’m never going to pass her the ball again,” associate head coach Jan Jensen said. “She’s never going to wear 25 or 14 again. So, it’s just that conundrum of emotions … Losing is not fun.”

Warnock had another season of eligibility because of COVID-19, but she decided to forgo that year to head to dental school.

The aspiring dentist will find out about the status of her applications on May 1, and she hopes to stay a Hawkeye. But dental school is competitive, she said, so she applied to multiple programs.

“If I get in, yeah, of course,” Warnock said of staying at Iowa. “I would love to be around Iowa and go to the games and everything, but you apply kind of everywhere.”

While Czinano has exhausted her eligibility, she’s planning to pursue basketball professionally — both in the WNBA and overseas. 

But she’ll make sure to watch the Hawkeyes next season, wherever she is in the world.

“I’m so excited, and I’ve been thinking about it — I’ll probably be overseas, so I’m gonna be setting alarms at like 2 a.m., 3 a.m.,” Czinano said. “But I just love these girls so much, being able to watch them do their things. I get so much more joy watching them make their shots, and honestly, if I can just do that all the time, that would be amazing.”