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Monday, May 4, 2020

Birch and Garza named Iowa Athletes of the Year

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Hawkeye senior Katie Birch (field hockey) and junior Luka Garza (men’s basketball) have been named the University of Iowa’s 2019-20 Male and Female Athletes of the Year. The duo will be Iowa’s nominees for the 2020 Big Ten Conference Athletes of the Year awards. Winners will be announced at a later date.

Birch, a native of York, England, was a NFHCA First-Team All-American and became the seventh Hawkeye in program history to be named a three-time All-American. One of Iowa’s four team captains, Birch started all 22 games in 2019. She tallied seven goals for 24 points, which ranked eighth-most in the Big Ten and third-most on the team. She tied her career-high 10 assists, which ranked fifth-most among the Big Ten, and registered two multiple-assist games against Indiana (Oct. 18) and Central Michigan (Sept. 6), including five assists in a 11-0 win against Central Michigan. The NFHCA West Region Player of the Year, first team NFHCA All-West Regional honoree, unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection, four-time All-Big Ten honoree, three-time team MVP, Birch helped the Hawkeyes capture the 2019 Big Ten Tournament and regular season titles. She was named Big Ten Tournament MVP for her efforts.

A Washington D.C. native, Garza had a historic season leading the nationally-ranked men’s basketball team to 20 victories and a likely NCAA Tournament berth. A unanimous consensus first-team All-America selection, Garza became the first Iowa men’s basketball student-athlete to earn National Player of the Year distinction by six major news outlets. The junior center was also named the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year, USBWA District VI Player of the Year, and the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Garza finished the 20-game conference schedule averaging 26.2 points per game, becoming the first player to average at least 26 points in Big Ten play since Purdue’s Glenn Robinson in 1994. Garza scored a school-record 740 points this season, breaking the program’s 50-year old record previously set by John Johnson in 1970. Garza became one of three Big Ten players ever to total 740+ points and 300+ rebounds in a single-season. He scored 20 points or more in a school-record 16 straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by any player in the Big Ten since Ohio State’s Dennis Hopson (16) in 1987. Garza ranked second nationally in 20-point games (25); third in total field goals made (287), fifth in scoring (23.9), 19th in double-doubles (15), and 34th in rebounding (9.8). Garza produced against top competition all season, averaging 26.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in 12 contests against AP ranked opponents, including recording 11 straight 20-point performances.

 

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