It is rare for a coach to say they would rather be facing a different opponent, but that is what Iowa Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said before her team faced the Bluejays in the second round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
The 7th seed, which fell to the 10th seed in the first round, was hoping to play Colorado.
Things played out like a nightmare scenario for Iowa in their second-round loss to Creighton. The teams have played each other in preseason scrimmages in the past and know what to expect. For most of the game, the Hawkeyes were beaten by the best team in the game.
Iowa struggled to defend and rebound in the upset, and also had a difficult day on the offensive side, getting its lowest point total in two years in Iowa City. What happened to the Hawkeyes? What went wrong for Creighton? What is next for both?
It was a big factor in the game, as the Hawkeyes got smoked there. The smaller Bluejays have a five-out offense that they are used to and they do a great job of tipping the boards to their teammates.
The women's NCAA tournament games are underway. Play a tournament.
In every single game throughout the year, rebounding is a huge focus. Proud of us for getting that done.
The Bluejays had a 52-37 advantage on the boards. Iowa had eight second-chance points.
In games we have lost, it has been a big issue for us, and it was again tonight. They executed and scored on most of the O-boards, and that hurt.
We did not crash to the best of our ability to get those second-chance opportunities.
That is something that needs to be improved for our team. Something that has improved this year but can go even further.
Several Iowa players try to get a game-tying shot to fall in the final seconds of the game, but aren't able to.
They made everything she did hard, because they were rotating defenders and keeping them fresh. Clark is used to this type of defense; she faces it almost every game. But he never let up. Clark's 21.0% shooting was the second worst of her career, and Iowa's other guards weren't able to make enough shots to loosen the stranglehold the Bluejays put on her.
There were times when other people were going to have to take her. Show your hands to the officials if you want to bail her out.
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I thought they allowed us to play at both ends. I thought the games this weekend were pretty even in terms of the call of verticality.
She credited how well the Bluejays played.
I think that the game was called differently than what we have seen all year, and that is unfortunate. In our games, we averaged 34 fouls being called per game. When an NCAA championship game is called completely different than the 30 games that prepared you for this point, it is very frustrating.
I don't want that to take away from the excellent preparation and performance of Creighton.
Other than the dominance in second-chance points, the Bluejays also outshot the Hawkeyes from behind the 3-point line. The Hawkeyes entered the game with an average of 7.5 treys and 35.5% from long range.
Both teams missed opportunities. Iowa missed a lot of wide-open 3s. I don't think either team played as well as their best. It has something to do with pressure.
The Hawkeyes, who tied for the Big Ten regular-season title, won the Big Ten tournament and got sellout crowds for both NCAA tournament games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, are really hurting from this. It was going to be a disappointment if anything other than a repeat of last season's Sweet 16 performance was not good. There won't be a chance for fans to see Clark and the South Carolina players on the same court.
The things that Iowa struggled with all season were exploited by the other team. Going into Sunday, Iowa averaged 84.9 PPG and gave up 70.4. The formula worked well for Iowa to win the Big Ten titles. If this team wants to get to a Final Four for the second time in program history, it will have to defend better.
Clark will be back for her junior season, and Czinano will return for a fifth year because of the 2020-21 blanket eligibility waiver due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The building blocks will remain, but Iowa might need to go to the transfer portal for reinforcements, especially in the post.
Big Ten Player of the Year Clark still had a great season despite the loss. She needs more help to maximize her career at Iowa.
Lauren Jensen talked about how draining the go-ahead 3 was against her former team as the Bluejays upset Iowa.
Lauren Jensen hit a dagger 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to give the Bluejays a win over their former team in Iowa City.
In the Big East tournament quarterfinals, Creighton was upset by Seton Hall 66-65. The Bluejays regrouped for the NCAA tournament and have knocked off two Power 5 teams, Colorado and Iowa, to make their program's first Sweet 16. They will face either Iowa State or Georgia at the regional.
The most successful year has been the one that has been the most fun. I think that is a testament to how close we are as teammates and how supportive we are of each other.