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Hawkeye fans pack Carver Hawkeye Arena to cheer on Iowa women in first round of Mach Madness

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL)- The Iowa women's team took the court in Iowa City to open up March Madness. The second-seeded Hawkeye women played Southeastern Louisiana in the first round of the NCAA tournament in front of a sellout crowd.

Hawkeye nation was hungry for a win after Auburn upset the men on Thursday.

The energy was electric at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and all 15,000 fans in the crowd got what they wanted.

"The crowd was amazing. It is Friday afternoon, it is a workday, and we have 14,000 plus in here," Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder said.

For fans of all ages, the atmosphere was unique.

"There is nothing like being in Carver when it is sold out, and people are having fun with great excitement. That is what it is all about. that is what college athletics should be about," Hawkeye Fan Greg Morris said. "It is a big deal, and it is fun, and it's exciting for our athletic department and our community."

The Carver Cones were flowing as fans watched the Black and Gold pour it on with a 52-point win over Southeastern Louisiana on Friday.

"I am happy with our performance, the way we shot the ball today," Bluder said. "Our defense held them to 11 points in the second half."

Tickets for the game sold out in under an hour. Hawkeye fans who were able to snag some said they did not want to miss a chance to see the team at home in the NCAA tournament.

Ralna McVinua and her daughters came from Northwest Iowa to the game. While McVinua has been a Hawkeye fan her entire life, she is a massive fan of this Iowa women's team because of the example they set for her two young daughters.

"They're phenomenal student-athletes, and it's great that they can get to know them superficially. Coming to games, we feel like they give something for our girls to dream of and dream for."

Clark and her teammates inspire young girls and boys, striving to match them in black and gold one day.

"I'm working towards playing here," Ryan McVinua said. "Just basketball, basketball, basketball."

The Hawks have a bit of a chip on their shoulder after an early exit last year. Iowa fans are hoping for a different outcome when Iowa hosts Georgia in the second round on Sunday.

"We are going to need everyone in the crowd back on Sunday afternoon because we know that is going to be a good challenge," Bluder said.

Sunday's game will feature two head coaches who grew up in eastern Iowa.

Iowa's Lisa Bluder is a Marion native who played college basketball at UNI.

Georgia coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson is from Cedar Rapids and transferred to Iowa to play for legendary Iowa Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer.

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