CLOSE

Megan Gustafson describes the emotions in seeing her jersey retired. Hawk Central

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

No Monika Czinano, no problem for No. 19 Iowa against one of the conference's worst. 

The sophomore center's right ankle injury kept her sidelined Thursday night, but the Hawkeyes hardly needed her in rolling by Penn State, 77-66, at the Bryce Jordan Center. This matchup between the Big Ten's current leader and cellar dweller unfolded as expected. 

After some early back-and-forth action, Iowa (18-3, 9-1 Big Ten Conference) removed any suspense with a 19-2 surge in the first half's final 5:36. A 23-22 deficit transformed into a 41-25 halftime lead — and the Hawkeyes had their cushion. A cruise-control second half saw Penn State (7-14, 1-9) trail by double figures until the final minute.       

Kathleen Doyle led Iowa with 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, also adding eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. Freshman McKenna Warnock, who made her first collegiate start in place of Czinano, finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for a nice follow-up to Sunday's performance. Warnock has reached double figures in back-to-back games for the first time this season. 

Iowa also got 14 points from Makenzie Meyer and 15 from Alexis Sevillian, who buried three treys for the fourth time this year. Reserves Logan Cook and Kate Martin also helped fill in for Czinano, with short appearances   

Had this been less of a lopsided affair, maybe Iowa would've rolled Czinano out there, perhaps in a limited role of sorts. But the Hawkeyes didn't need to push things right away against a team sputtering to stay afloat.

Czinano could return Sunday, when Iowa travels to Michigan for Sunday's 11 a.m. showdown at Crisler Center. If not, look for Warnock and others to shoulder the load again. A win against the Wolverines would mark Iowa's best start through 11 Big Ten games in the Lisa Bluder era.   

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.  

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE