Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall finish illustrious Iowa women’s basketball careers in national championship loss

Marshall and Martin finish their careers with the first and second most games played in program history, respectively.

Iowa+guard+Gabbie+Marshall+hugs+Iowa+forward+Jada+Gyamfi+during+the+NCAA+Championship+game+between+No.+1+Iowa+and+No.+1+South+Carolina+at+Rocket+Mortgage+FieldHouse+in+Cleveland%2C+Ohio%2C+on+Sunday%2C+April+7%2C+2024.+The+Gamecocks+defeated+the+Hawkeyes%2C+87-75.+%28Grace+Smith%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29

Grace Smith
Iowa guard Gabbie Marshall hugs Iowa forward Jada Gyamfi during the NCAA Championship game between No. 1 Iowa and No. 1 South Carolina at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday, April 7, 2024. The Gamecocks defeated the Hawkeyes, 87-75. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan)

CLEVELAND — A national championship may have eluded guards Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin, but what they accomplished for the Iowa women’s basketball team while donning the black and gold will be remembered forever.

Marshall and Martin have played their last game as Hawkeyes, losing to South Carolina 87-75 in the final game of the NCAA Tournament, but the duo’s legacy will continue as the standard for what it means to be an Iowa women’s basketball player.

“They are both great leaders,” an emotional Sydney Affolter said following Iowa’s loss Sunday evening. “I think what a lot of people take away from them is just to give all you can to make this team win, and I think they [did] that every day.”

When fellow senior Caitlin Clark potentially gets a statue outside of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Marshall and Martin should — figuratively — be the pillars in said statue. The trio’s chemistry on the court made Iowa women’s basketball must-see TV while also leading the program to the most success ever in its 50-year history.

“There’s been so many great Iowa women’s basketball players to come before us that allowed this program to be really good,” Clark said in the post-game press conference. “I feel like we took it to a whole other level. I feel like our program is in good hands moving forward.”

Martin recorded 16 points and five rebounds in her last outing for Iowa, while the defensive ace Marshall finished the game with six points and three steals.

The two left it all on the court, playing all 40 minutes of the contest against a powerhouse South Carolina team, which finished the season with a perfect 38-0 record.

Marshall and Martin end their careers having played the most games in Iowa women’s basketball history, with 166 and 163 games, respectively. The two, along with Clark,  have started in nearly every game since the 2020-21 season, being as much of a staple at Carver during this time as the signature Carver Cones or PA announcer Dave Gallagher’s booming voice.

“We’ve been together for so long through the ups and the downs and everything in between,” Marshall said with tears in her eyes. “We’ve done pretty much everything together for these last five years, and I will have them in my life forever.”

Martin arrived on campus in the summer of 2018, and Marshall joined her a year later. Since then, the two have seen the popularity of the Iowa women’s team — and the sport in general — explode.

Iowa advanced to its first-ever national championship in 2023, which broke the record for the most-viewed women’s college basketball game with 9.9 million viewers. Iowa somehow managed to one-up that this season by playing in the first-ever basketball game held in Kinnick Stadium in front of over 55,000 fans and set or broke attendance records in all but two of its regular season games.

Oh, and the team broke the previous viewing record in two of their last three NCAA Tournament games against LSU and UConn, with this year’s national championship sure to continue this streak.

“I think that’s kind of where the emotion is coming from, just thinking of all we’ve done together from the Kinnick game until now,” Marshall said. “We’ve gotten to be the first to do things at the University of Iowa, and we’ve made history here together.”

Coming into this year knowing it would be their last at Iowa, Martin said it was her goal to spend as much time with her teammates as possible, and she succeeded. The team’s championship win in the Big Ten Tournament and making it to the national championship meant the Hawkeyes played in the maximum amount of games allocated.

“I don’t want this to be over, and it stings really bad knowing that this is it, and I don’t have a next year with Iowa,” Martin said. “But I know it’s not over with my teammates because I know we’ll be friends for life.”

Despite all the on-court accomplishments, both players said they are most proud of the joy they brought Iowa fans during their time careers and how they were able to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds.

“My teammates and everyone else [are] not going to remember how many points I scored every game, but I hope they remember how I made them feel, and I hope it had a positive impact,” Martin said.

Both players said they ended their collegiate careers with no regrets, and they hope the success they brought to the team established a precedent for the program going forward.

“I knew I was going to give everything I had every single day, and I did that, and I’m proud of that,” Martin said. “I feel really grateful to Coach Bluder for believing in me and for all my teammates since my freshman year until now. I’ve been surrounded by some pretty good players, but above all, some really good friends.

So, while this might be the end of “The Glue” and “Pretty Eyes,” both will certainly be greeted with the utmost respect and admiration from fans whenever their faces grace the jumbotron in Carver again.

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