March 20, 2022
How Creighton pulled off an epic upset of Iowa
And a round-up of BIG EAST action in the Big Dance
Creighton sophomore Lauren Jensen made the Sweet Sixteen last year as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes. This season, Jensen delivered the dagger that prevented the Hawkeyes from returning there.
Jensen, who transferred to Creighton after spending her 2020-21 freshman season with Iowa, hit the game-winning three-pointer in a shocking 64-62 upset of her former team.
During a game that included five ties and 10 lead changes, Jensen knew that her Bluejays squad was tough enough to pull out the upset. Even in front of a capacity crowd on the Hawkeyes’ home court, Creighton never lost its composure.
“Honestly I knew we would stay together,” Jensen said. “We’ve been in those situations before in close games and we’ve been able to overcome it. Obviously it was a little bit different environment playing in front of 15,000, but I’m super proud of us for staying together and getting our offense going again.”
The Bluejays also dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Hawkeyes 52-37. Creighton also held Iowa sharp-shooter Caitlin Clark to 15 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder pointed to her frustrations with the officiating in the post-game press conference.
“I do believe that that game was called differently than what we’ve seen all year, and I really think that’s unfortunate,” Bluder said. “We average going to the free-throw line 18 times; we go eight tonight. We averaged 34 fouls being called in a game, 22 were called tonight. It’s pretty frustrating when an NCAA championship game is called completely different than the 30 games that prepared you for this point, and that is very frustrating.”
With the win, Creighton secures its first Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history.
BIG EAST champs make more history
As tends to happen this time of year, the Connecticut Huskies broke another record on Saturday. With an 83-38 win over the Mercer Bears, UConn won its 28th consecutive first round game in the NCAA tournament. The previous record (27) was held by Tennessee from 1982-2008.
It was a strong overall defensive effort for the BIG EAST champions, including a 20-0 shut-out in the third quarter.
“The best teams that we’ve had over the years have been really hard to score against, really hard to run their offense against,” said coach Geno Auriemma. “And because we put the kind of pressure we put on them by scoring, now it puts even more pressure on them to have to score and it just, you know, kind of accelerates the down slide.”
Stifling defense from the Huskies led to dominance on the offensive end.
Senior Dorka Juhász contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Christyn Williams led all scorers with 13 points. Sophomore Paige Bueckers, who played the most minutes (24) she has played since she returned from injury on February 25, added 12 points, five assists and two steals. She also appeared less hesitant to cut and drive to the basket.
“I think ever since the end of the Big East tournament I’ve just tried to lock in mentally and physically and trying to do whatever I have to do, cut certain stuff out and just really lock in these next, this next month,” Bueckers said.
“Just getting my body prepared, my mind prepared, and I think in the last 10 days I really locked in on that. So that’s helped me gain confidence in my movements and what I’m doing on the court and then just my teammates giving me confidence, my coaches giving me confidence, and just to keep working, and they’re going to be by my side and help me through that.”
Connecticut will face Central Florida in second-round action from Storrs, Monday at 9 p.m. ET.
Wildcats show they belong
Villanova barely burst the bubble for a spot in the NCAA tournament. If anyone doubted the No. 11 seed belongs, a 61-57 upset over No. 6 seed BYU should quiet those doubts.
BIG EAST player of the year Maddy Siegrist took the Wildcats on her back to secure the victory. The junior contributed a padded stat line of 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“For Mad, it was really just a matter of settling in and seeing what was happening out there and then just feeling the game. I think she’s done a tremendous job of that this season,” said Villanova coach Denise Dillon. “Her growth from last season to this season has been just that, just settling in, letting the game come to her instead of forcing things.”
The Cougars, who end their season 26-4 on the season, just couldn’t contain Siegrist.
“Villanova went to their star,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said of Siegrist. “In the second half they ran everything through her, and she’s a great player and she made some plays tonight that as a coach you try to double her, but she’s quick enough to get her shot off fast enough that you can’t get there.”
Next up for the Wildcats in a match-up with No. 3 seed Michigan Monday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU.