Emotions Don't Get To Hawkeyes In Win Over Minnesota

Iowa's Makenzie Meyer (3) and her teammates celebrate during Thursday's win over Minnesota. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)

John Bohnenkamp

The notebooks nearly got to Makenzie Meyer.

When Meyer got to the locker room before Thursday's game against Minnesota, the seniors on Iowa women's basketball teams had books in their lockers, with notes and thoughts from their teammates.

“That kind of got me a little choked up before the game,” Meyer said. “But I tried to put those emotions aside.”

But there were other moments that brought about the finality of Senior Night.

Meyer talked about running out of the tunnel before the game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“There were definitely a couple of times where I was like, ‘Wow, this could be the last time I’m ever going to do this,’” Meyer said. “It’s tough. It’s, like, overwhelming to think about.”

The Hawkeyes, though, weren’t overwhelmed. Their 90-82 win over the Gophers was their 36th consecutive home victory, the second-longest active streak in NCAA Division I.

It was an undefeated home season, just like last year.

“That’s simply amazing,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It’s hard to grasp that. But that’s how well they’ve done.”

It was also the 96th win for the Hawkeye seniors — Meyer, guard Kathleen Doyle, and forward Amanda Ollinger — adding to their total as the winningest senior group in Bluder’s 20 seasons at Iowa.

That number is only going to grow — there is Sunday’s regular-season finale at Rutgers, the Big Ten tournament, and then the NCAA tournament.

“We heard 96,” Doyle said. “We want 100. We’re a really competitive group. We want a hundo.”

The Hawkeyes (23-5 overall, 14-3 Big Ten) would also like to be at home for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament as a top-16 seed.

“Obviously our next four games will have an impact on that,” Bluder said.

The Hawkeyes led this game for almost 34 minutes, but the Gophers (15-13, 4-12) didn’t make it easy for them.

Iowa led by as much as 15 points in the third quarter before Minnesota closed to within 80-77 with 3:19 to play. But the Hawkeyes went on a 10-2 run to regain control.

Bluder was hoping to get Meyer, Doyle and Ollinger out of the game in the closing seconds, and to get center Paula Valino Ramos, a junior who is graduating in three years, out on the court.

Bluder thought the Gophers were going to contest the final seconds. Instead, the Hawkeyes ran out the clock.

“It went by too fast,” Bluder said. “I just kind of blew that.”

Monika Czinano matched her career high with 24 points to lead the Hawkeyes. Meyer had 24, hitting a career-high six 3-pointers. Doyle had 16, and McKenna Warnock and Alexis Sevillian each had 11.

“This is big for our program,” Czinano said. “This is big for our seniors.”

There were tears in the post-game ceremony. There was hope, though, that the Hawkeyes would be coming back for at least one more home game.

“I do hope it’s not our last game (at home),” Bluder said.