Hawkeyes’ historic run falls short of a national title
DALLAS, TX (KCRG) - The Iowa women’s basketball team came up one win short of claiming the school’s first-ever national championship. The Hawkeyes gave a lot of credit to LSU who put up 102 points and shot 65 percent from the three point line.
Iowa got into some foul trouble and seniors Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock ended their careers on the bench. Even when Iowa was down 21 points, the belief they’ve had in themselves all season never wavered off.
“I never stopped believing in our team, honestly. I’m so proud of them and I think our fight was amazing. I don’t think even when the buzzer ended we were done fighting. I think we would have kept playing there all night if we could have,” Warnock said.
“I thought the whole game we would win,” senior guard Kate Martin said. “I think that’s what stings the worst at the end of it when the final buzzer goes off and it was LSU who won. They played outstanding. They made a lot of shots and banked in a few threes. We could be down 60 points and I would still think this team could come back. That’s how much I believe in everyone on this team.”
Caitlin Clark’s technical foul in the third quarter really bothered Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and halted Iowa’s momentum in the game.
“Her growth this year especially has been outstanding. That’s why I think that technical foul hurts even more because I know how far she’s come. I know that that wasn’t any intent- I’ll have to watch it on film - but there was no intent whatsoever for her to disrespect the game in any way. For her to get that. I don’t know. It isn’t right,” Bluder said.
“I didn’t say anything. It was for rolling the ball under the basket where the ref would have been to throw it in for the free throw, but I’m not the ref. It’s what she called. It is what it is. Obviously, I’m not going to go back in time to change it. It’s not what I care about,” Clark said.
Although they fell short of their ultimate team goal, they want to be remembered as a group who played with joy and passion. They also love the game and love each other.
“That’s what I want people to remember,” Martin said. “That’s what I want people to see out of us from this whole season.”
“I think love to each other. I couldn’t be more proud of his team and we’re proud of these girls. It’s honestly been an honor to be part of it for these past four years. A national championship is something we always dreamed of,” Warnock added.
Sunday’s game featured the largest total crowd in women’s Final Four history with 19,482 people in attendance. Czinano has said she’s lucky to have played during one of the most influential times in women’s basketball, but it will be hard to replace what she and Warnock brought to the team.
“I just hope my legacy is somebody who played this game and showed that you can be intense, but also have so much fun with it. I’ve always just been goofy. I kind of wore my emotions on my sleeve. More than that, I did this and I played basketball to be a role model for younger kids who have grown up, maybe bigger, stronger and just kind of feel a little bit awkward. That’s where I found a safe haven is in basketball,” Czinano said.
“When you coach somebody for four or five years, you get to know him really well and you build relationships. It’s like a family. So to think of a locker room next year without Monika and McKenna - it’s almost too much right now to think about. I want to coach them again. I wish I could coach them tomorrow,” Bluder said.
Iowa who finished their historic run with a 31-7 overall record returns three of their five starters next season.
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