McKenna Warnock, Monika Czinano lead No. 10 Iowa women's basketball in win over Purdue
IOWA CITY − The 10th-ranked Iowa women's basketball team won its sixth straight game Thursday, beating Big Ten Conference rival Purdue 83-68 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Riding strong performances from McKenna Warnock and Monika Czinano, the Hawkeyes reminded everyone why they are one of the top teams in the Big Ten.
Czinano eclipsed the 2,000-point mark and Warnock sunk five 3-pointers vs. Purdue. Here are some other takeaways from Iowa's victory:
Defense is the name of the game for the Hawkeyes
Iowa's offense came out cold, but the defense was clicking from the word go.
Purdue hit just 25% of its shots in the first half, a steep decline from the Boilermakers' 49.4% season average.
The Hawkeyes did a great job of slowing down the Boilermakers, even when Purdue had chances to score in transition. Purdue scored just three fast-break points and just four points off of their eight first-half turnovers.
The second half was a bit of a different story as Purdue started to get into a flow offensively, particularly when the ball was in the hands of fifth-year guard Cassidy Hardin. After going scoreless in the first half, she scored 10 points, including seven in the third quarter.
Iowa had created a large enough advantage on the scoreboard that Purdue's late push did not put the game in jeopardy.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder appreciated her team's ability to slow down Purdue's potent offense early, but she was eager to find out what changed in the second half.
"I thought that our defense was really good in the first half," Bluder said. "We let up a little in the second half. We had a significant lead and kind of let up a little bit, but they started making a few more shots. I don't know if it was them or it was because our defense was not as good. The film will tell, but I feel like we set the tone early."
McKenna Warnock's three-point shooting gives Iowa a spark
During the first quarter, the Hawkeyes found themselves in a scoring drought that was nearing four minutes.
Needing a bucket to slow down the Boilermakers' momentum, senior McKenna Warnock hit a key three-pointer to give her team the 8-7 lead.
From that moment on, Iowa's offense looked to be reinvigorated as it closed out the quarter on a 12-5 run.
The Hawkeyes' dominance continued into the second quarter, when they scored 24 points compared to Purdue's 11.
Warnock led the team with eight points in the period, adding two more three-pointers. She carried that into the second half when she opened the third quarter with back-to-back three-pointers.
She ended the night with a season-high 19 points and five three-pointers.
"Whether or not I am having an on or off night, I want to shoot it either way," Warnock said. "Our coaches and players have given me so much confidence because they tell me to shoot it every time I get it, even if it is an off night. But tonight it was nice to see the shots go down."
Iowa's presence in the paint is a big factor
Guard Caitlin Clark (24 points) had another big night, but Iowa's inside play also was a big factor Thursday.
Iowa had 48 rebounds (to Purdue's 37), with six players grabbing at least five. This was especially important when the Hawkeyes grabbed their own misses and turned them into 13 second-chance points.
"Getting that second-chance point is so important," Bluder said. "McKenna (Warnock) got a couple, Monika (Czinano) got a couple, but Hannah (Stuelke) getting four offensive rebounds in 10 minutes is really good. We preach getting them all the time, so we are really glad to get those offensive rebounds tonight."
Czinano has made a career out of wreaking havoc near the basket. Against Purdue, she scored her 2,000th career point and finished with 12 points and six rebounds. She ranked fifth on Iowa's all-time scoring list, just behind teammate Clark, who also reached 2,000 points this month.
"It probably hasn't really sunk in yet," Czizano said. "This is a really exclusive list of great Hawkeyes that I am joining, so it is just a great honor. ... My teammates have made a huge impact in all of that. I have to show them some thankfulness for all of this too."