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Phil Knight Invitational offers early tests for No. 8 women’s basketball in Iowa

IOWA CITY – Even with established characters and roles, such as that possessed by the Iowa women’s basketball team, each year is its own journey and requires the right set-up. Intense showdowns early in the season, like the one the Hawkeyes will see in Oregon this week, help that process tremendously.

No. 8 Iowa (4-1) has been circling the Phil Knight Invitational since it was announced the Hawkeyes would be joining a prestigious field at one of the glittering Thanksgiving events. Friday’s opener at 7:30 p.m. against Oregon State (4-0) at the Chiles Center in Portland – followed by a Sunday matchup against Duke or No. 3 Connecticut – offers Iowa the chance after three consecutive conference grinds.

“We’re really excited and honored to be able to go at all,” said McKenna Warnock, a senior from Iowa. “It’s great to see so early in the season and that can help inspire a lot of confidence.”

Iowa's McKenna Warnock (14) and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) smile after an NCAA women's basketball game earlier this season

More:Back home, Iowa’s No. 6 women’s basketball grinds past Belmont

After smoking Southern and Evansville earlier in the year, Iowa prevailed through an overtime win at Drake, a tough loss to Kansas State, and a home win over Belmont that left the run-and-gun Hawkeyes under 80 points . There have been no unexpected issues in five games, but the chance to find top results again this week could prove crucial as more challenges lie ahead.