Iowa routinely plays good mid and low major opponents in its non-conference schedule. Those opponents help improve Iowa’s strength of schedule, while also offering a challenging game that Iowa should be favored to win.
But a schedule can’t include only good teams. Sometimes, a team needs weaker opposition to build confidence. Or to get game experience for young players to help build depth.
Enter North Carolina Central. At 1-8, the Eagles aren’t having a good season. And they didn’t have a good one last year, either. The 2018-2019 Eagles went 9-22 and lost to Iowa by a stunning 67 points.
They didn’t fare a whole lot better this time around. It took Iowa a little while to get going in this one, and they led only 26-12 at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, though, Iowa’s lead was 55-18, and the only question remaining was how big the final margin would be. That answer was 52, as Iowa won the game 102-50 and improved to 8-2 overall.
Makenzie Meyer led Iowa with 19 points, including 4-6 from three. Monika Czinano added 14 points on 7-8 shooting. Kathleen Doyle had 13 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds while surrendering only two turnovers. She took care of the ball well for a second consecutive game. Gabbie Marshall was the final Hawkeye in double-figures with 11 points and 5 assists. Here is a box score for the game.
The best version of Iowa’s offense features plenty of made three-pointers and assists on most of the team’s baskets. Check and check today. The Hawks went 13-22 from three in this one, including 9 of 12 to start. They also assisted on 32 of 37 made baskets. Obviously the NC Central defense isn’t near the level of Big Ten Teams, but this game shows how good Iowa can be when they work the offense and get open shots.
Iowa’s depth players saw plenty of action. All 13 Hawkeyes got into the game, and 10 of 13 played 10 minutes or more. Additionally, 12 of the 13 players scored.
It was good to see the Meyer sisters get a few minutes on court together in the late 3rd quarter. Megan even got an assist on a Makenzie three-pointer near the end of the period.
Iowa ends the non-conference portion of its schedule next Saturday, December 21st at 6 PM CT against Drake. The Bulldogs are 7-2 on the season, including wins over Iowa State, Auburn, and Creighton. The game will be streamed on BTN+.