By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Monika Czinano didn’t do anything Thursday to relinquish her title as the most proficient field goal shooter in the country.
Iowa’s 6-foot-3 center made her first 15 field goal attempts against Northwestern on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena and finished with a 17-for-19 effort and a career-high 34 points. She entered the contest leading the nation at 66.7 percent (94 of 141).
“I knew going into this game that using our size advantage and using our bigs was going to be a critical part of this game,” Czinano said. “It was having that mentality and knowing I would have to do a little more.”
The visiting Wildcats spoiled the party, overcoming Czinano’s monster effort and a nine-point deficit midway through the third quarter to post an 87-80 victory.
“They don’t have an answer for Monika,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “She shoots 19 times, she probably should have shot 25. They have no answer for her; keep going, why stop doing something that is working?”
It has been 10 days since the Hawkeyes last took the floor — an 87-81 win over Purdue. Czinano capped that outing with three straight makes, giving her a streak of 18 consecutive made field goals until 6:56 remained against Northwestern. Of Iowa’s 34 field goals against the Wildcats, 27 came with an assist. It was Iowa’s season-high for assists in a game; eight came from point guard Caitlin Clark (who added 23 points) and seven from forward McKenna Warnock.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all the passes my teammates (made). You can only make that kind of field goal percentage when your teammates are finding you when you’re wide open and they are easy shots. Credit to them for being able to find me.”Monika Czinano, Iowa center
“It wouldn’t have been possible without all the passes my teammates (made),” Czinano said. “You can only make that kind of field goal percentage when your teammates are finding you when you’re wide open and they are easy shots. Credit to them for being able to find me.”
Iowa is 9-4 overall, 5-4 in the Big Ten. In 13 games, Czinano averages 19.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Twice she feasted against a Northwestern roster that includes just two players listed at 6-1 or taller. On Jan. 9 in Evanston, Illinois, Czinano grabbed 12 rebounds and made 13 of 14 field goals, scoring a then-career high 28 points.
Czinano had 11 rebounds Thursday giving her two double-doubles this season — both against the Wildcats. Against Northwestern this season, Czinano made 30 of 33 field goal attempts.
“Monika Czinano with 89 percent (field goal shooting) and 11 rebounds,” Bluder said. “We had people shoot the ball well.”
Iowa returns to action Sunday against Minnesota (5-7, 4-6) in Minneapolis. Tipoff is 4 p.m. (CT) and the game will be streamed on BTN Plus. The Hawkeyes rallied from 16 points down in the first half to win the first meeting, 92-79, on Jan. 6.