FDU and new head coach Stephanie Gaitley opened the women’s basketball season Monday, 1,000 miles from Teaneck, challenging No. 3-ranked Iowa in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,000 fans in Iowa City.
The Knights fell 102-46 as the defending Big 10 tournament champion hosts, last year’s NCAA tourney runners-up, opened a double-figure lead and controlled to the final buzzer.
FDU will make a short trip up the Hudson River to play Army Sunday at 1 p.m. in its next outing. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.
Last year’s consensus player of the year, senior guard Caitlin Clark, led four Iowa players finishing in double-digits scoring with 28 points, adding seven rebounds and 10 assists in 24 minutes of play. She staked the Hawkeyes to a 35-17 lead at the end of the first quarter, with 19 points on eight shots, including three three-pointers.
The Hawkeyes clicked in their first game after last year’s loss to LSU in the national championship game.
“Anything they wanted,” Gaitley said in an Associated Press report. “I’ve watched them on tape a lot, and I’ve known [Coach] Lisa [Bluder] for a long time. Once you’re in person and you see it, you see the maturity of this team.”
Lilly Parke, a 6-2 sophomore guard from Auckland, New Zealand, and a transfer from Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., led the Knights with 11 points. Teneisia Brown, a 6-2 senior forward who transfered from Merrimack, added 10. Freshmen guards Ciera Cevallos of Maplewood and Bella Toomey of Philadelphia added 7 each as all 14 Knights on the trip saw playing time and added a memory to their career scrapbook.
FDU started this new chapter in the program’s history with Gaitley taking over after 11 years as head coach at Fordham. Her Knights lost all five starters from last year’s regular-season Northeast Conference champion squad and are picked fourth by league coaches in the pre-season poll.