IOWA CITY — It was only an exhibition game, but Monika Czinano gave every indication that she plans to pick up where Megan Gustafson left off.
The 6-foot-3 Czinano made all 13 shots she attempted and scored a team-high 27 points Sunday as the Iowa women’s basketball team tuned up for the season with a 98-53 exhibition victory over Winona State.
The sophomore center from Watertown, Minnesota, backed up Gustafson last year during Gustafson’s record-setting senior season with the Hawkeyes and played in 34 games, but averaged only 1.9 points and 0.9 rebounds per game.
On Sunday, she was almost unstoppable inside, scoring 10 points in the second period, then adding 13 (more than the entire Winona team) in the third period.
At Iowa's preseason media day, head coach Lisa Bluder cautioned against making comparisons between Gustafson and Czinano but she admitted there might be a few things Czinano is even better at than her All-American predecessor.
"Monika has an amazing work ethic and an incredible attitude,'' Bluder said. "She soaks up information like a sponge and she loved playing behind Megan all year and learning from Megan. I am excited about Monika because she embraces contact; she doesn't back away from it.
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"She'll get down, rebound, and seal hard. I think we're all going to fall in love with Monika through her amazing attitude and work ethic through time."
Kathleen Doyle added 20 points for the Hawkeyes on Sunday, Makenzie Meyer handed out eight assists and Amanda Olinger, who has battled back injuries leading up to the season, came off the bench to grab a team-leading eight rebounds.
Caitlin Riley scored 16 points to lead Winona, which shot only 26.4 percent from the field and trailed 51-24 at halftime.
Iowa, meanwhile, shot 61 percent from the field (39 of 64) and also made 87 percent (13 of 15) of its shots from the free throw line.
The Hawkeyes will open the regular season Thursday with a home game against Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.