Tenth-seeded Creighton made her first in the round of 16, and did so with a late-game drama worthy of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.
Lauren Jensen, a freshman playing for Creighton after moving from Iowa State, shut the door to her former team on their home ground in Iowa City with a three-way flashlight in the last minute to help seal a 64-62 victory over second-seeded hockey.
“I honestly didn’t know if she would come in,” Jensen said after the match. “It kind of vibrates from the back edge over there. It wasn’t very clean, but I’m glad it fell.”
Iowa was a popular pick for the Final Four, thanks mostly to the eye-catching play of sophomore guard Caitlin Clark. Clarke entered the game as the division’s top scorer, averaging 27.4 points per game. Creighton only kept 15 points in 4 of 19 rebounds, though she had 11 assists and nearly eight rebounds.
“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for the way we play,” Clark said. “I think just going back and working harder than ever is really all I can do.”
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Gabby Marshall of the Iowa Juniors, 3-pointer, put the Hawkeyes ahead less than seven minutes before the end of the fourth quarter — a lead that briefly made it look like Iowa had finally found its footing after trailing by as much as 12 points, and Creighton reclaimed the lead. When there were 12 seconds left in the game on the Jensen Triple Index.
The basket gave Jensen 9 points in the last quarter.
“Those last few minutes must have been magical and special, and we are very proud of them and we are very proud that they are part of our programme,” said Creighton coach Jim Flanery.
The Hawkeyes had a few close-ups at the last second, but none were entered. “I’ve fired a million hook shots in my life and that just happened to not get in,” Monika Czinano, who led Iowa State with 27 points, said after the game.
Often prolific in attack, the Hawkeyes made just 35.7 percent of shot attempts from the field to score their lowest home points total since 2016.
In 2021, they were able to ride Clark’s shot into the round of 16, where they lost to top-ranked Connecticut. This year, the post-season ended in the second round, at the hands of a young group of Creighton players who held the lead for nearly 29 minutes out of 40 minutes.
The Bluejays’ surprise win, played before more of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena was sold, was one of the few first- and second-round matches to be broadcast on ABC – mostly due to the uproar surrounding Clark, who reached the Naismith Cup semi-finals. National Player of the Year.
“It was the most special environment I’ve played in so far,” said Payton Protzky of Creighton.
Creighton’s powerful armed forces in Iowa, collectively outperformed the Hawkeyes by 15 years and made it miserable for them to shoot. It was a balanced team effort that, in some ways, mirrored Creighton’s first-round win over 7-seeded Colorado. In that game, the Bluejays were also almost in control since receiving the information, and they didn’t feel overwhelmed when their opponents showed signs of life.
This is Flanery’s 20th season as a coach for Creighton, and the team’s fifth NCAA Championship appearance under him. In the Round of 16, the Bluejays will play Iowa State’s No. 3 game winner against seeded 6th Georgia on Sunday night.
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