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Iowa women's basketball: Hawkeyes crack AP poll for first time this season


Dargan Southard   | Hawk Central
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After two ranked wins in a four-day stretch, the Iowa women's basketball team is officially a ranked squad. 

The Hawkeyes (13-3, 4-1 Big Ten Conference) cracked the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday for the first time this season, coming in at No. 22. Iowa toppled then-No. 16 Maryland on Thursday and then-No. 13 Indiana on Sunday afternoon

Iowa has squashed questions about its roster turnover with this stretch of riveting basketball. The Hawkeyes have won eight of their last nine, including a 4-1 Big Ten start that has them tied atop the conference two weeks in. 

Senior guards Kathleen Doyle (18.1 ppg) and Makenzie Meyer (15.1 ppg) have led the charge alongside budding sophomore Monika Czinano (15.4 ppg). The 6-foot-3 center currently ranks second nationally with a 69.1 shooting percentage. Doyle, meanwhile, has racked up back-to-back Big Ten player of the week honors.  

Instant contributions from freshmen Gabbie Marshall and McKenna Warnock  — as well as good work from role players like Amanda Ollinger and Alexis Sevillian — have aided the Hawkeyes' growth, as well.

More: Leistikow: What's behind an unexpected run of Iowa women's basketball success after Megan Gustafson

No longer do you hear talk about what Iowa graduated off last season's Elite Eight team. Now, the discussions are centered on how far this upward-trending team can go. 

Iowa went wire-to-wire last year as a ranked squad, going from the teens in the preseason to a No. 8 finish. Perhaps the current Hawkeyes can begin a ranked run of their own. Iowa returns to action Thursday at Minnesota. 

"The leadership is just amazing on this team," Warnock said. "It just really helps down the stretch at the end of games, and it helps in practice."   

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.