By SHANE STURTZ
IOWA CITY – Highlighted by a 38-point third quarter, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, shot its way to a season-opening 96-81 victory over Northern Iowa to open the 2020 season inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday night.
Coach Lisa Bluder improves to a perfect 21-0 in season openers at Iowa, and it’s a bounce-back win from last season’s 88-66 loss to UNI.
“This one feels good to get back,” Bluder said. “We sat on (last season’s) loss for a while last year. I was excited to get going and start another year, but it didn’t feel the same. The environment is so special in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Not having the energy from our crowd is a big one.”
Despite having no fans in the stands, Iowa put on an offensive clinic, scoring the most points against UNI since the 2002-2003 season.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a fast start, leading 19-4 midway through the first quarter, but the Panthers slowly chipped away in the second quarter, taking a 30-29 lead, which would be the first and only lead for UNI.
Iowa closed out the first half on an 8-0 run to lead 43-36 at the break, before shooting 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the floor, 75 percent (6-of-8) from deep, and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe (12-of-14) in a fast-paced third quarter.
“That third quarter was about as good of quarter as we’ve seen,” Bluder said. “We shot the ball well in all areas.”
In a quarter that barely saw the shot clock below 20 seconds, Gabbie Marshall put an exclamation on the scoring outburst with a corner three as time expired in the third to give Iowa a 63-44 lead heading into the fourth.
UNI, who was led by Kam Finley’s 22 points, outscored the Hawkeyes in the fourth, but the Hawkeyes left the court with a 15-point victory.
Freshman Caitlin Clark dazzled in her debut, scoring 17 first-half points en route to a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. She added eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
“It was good I got to the basket early,” Clark said. “As the game went on, my confidence grew. Getting to the basket early opened up my three-point range.”
Clark was one of two Hawkeyes (Marshall) to sink three triples in the contest.
“She’s what we expected,” Bluder said “She’s so good with the ball in her hands. She can score in so many different areas. She’s going to get even better. You are going to have even more fun seeing her in the future, because you will see her passing skills more. We all know what an offensive threat she is.”
Sophomore McKenna Warnock scored 14 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds to record her third career double-double. Five of Warnock’s rebounds were on the offensive glass.
The Hawkeyes outrebounded the Panthers, 44-34.
- Freshmen Sharon Goodman, Lauren Jensen, and Shateah Wetering all made their Hawkeye debuts. Goodman scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench. Jensen drained a three-pointer in the third quarter for her first career points and Wetering added a fourth-quarter free throw to score her first career point.
- The Hawkeyes have won 13 of their last 14 meetings against UNI.
- Iowa’s upped its home winning streak to 37 games – the longest active streak in the country behind Baylor (56).
- Junior Monika Czinano poured in 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
The Hawkeyes travel to Des Moines to face Drake on Dec. 2. Game time to be announced.