Jensen leads Creighton past Iowa in NCAA second round
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lauren Jensen found a new place last spring when she transferred from Iowa to Creighton.
She came back into her former home on Sunday and knocked her ex-teammates out of the women’s NCAA tournament.
Jensen scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left that lifted No. 10 seed Creighton over Caitlin Clark and second-seeded Iowa 64-62 in a Greensboro Region second-round game.
Iowa (24-8), which shared the Big Ten regular-season title and won the conference tournament, had two chances to tie the game in the closing three seconds. Monika Czinano missed a layup with three seconds left, then Kate Martin missed a putback as time ran out.
Jensen scored nine of the Bluejays’ last 10 points.
“I’ve gotten the question a lot,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “‘How is Lauren going to feel today, what’s Lauren going to play like, da da da da?’ Those last few minutes had to be magical and special, and we’re super proud of her and we’re super proud that she’s part of our program.”
“Right away from summer workouts, this team welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home and a part of the team, and I’m just so grateful for that,” Jensen said. “To be able to do that with them here today is just so great.”
Jensen had a layup with 1:26 left to cut Iowa’s lead to 62-60, then her 3-pointer gave the Bluejays a lead.
“I just wanted to go in and play my game and didn’t know what to expect with a sold out crowd,” she said. “Play my game and play with my teammates and hopefully come out with the win, which we did.”
“She goes over there and she comes back and beats us on our home court, and I want to congratulate her because she’s a great kid,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She is a really, really good kid. I’m happy for her. I wish it wasn’t in this situation, but I am happy for her that she’s found a really good home and is really having a lot of success.”
After Clark missed a layup Emma Ronziek made the second of two free throws for the final margin.
Ronziek and Payton Brotzki had 13 points for the Bluejays (22-9), who advance to their first Sweet 16. They were the seventh double-digit seed to win in the women’s NCAA Tournament so far, matching the record set in 1998.
“This is for everyone who has played at Creighton and put on a uniform in the past,” Flanery said. “So happy for everyone who has been here. It means a lot. we have so much respect for Iowa and their program. The familiarity led to a lower scoring game than I anticipated. To make a Sweet 16 is really special.”
Czinano led Iowa with 27 points. Clark, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 27.4 points per game, finished with 15. Clark had a rough game, shooting just 4-for-19 from the field, including missing all eight shots in the second half.
“I missed some bunnies I usually make,” Clark said. “But that’s how basketball goes.”
Creighton led by as much as 12 points in the first half before a six-point Iowa run in the final two minutes cut the Bluejays’ lead to 38-32 at halftime. The Hawkeyes struggled offensively outside of Clark and Czinano, who had Iowa’s first 26 points of the game.
Iowa, which ranked second in the nation in scoring at 84.9 points per game, was held to a season-low in points.
ANOTHER IOWA CONNECTION
Creighton guard Rachel Saunders is an Iowa City native. Her father, Mike, played football at Iowa.
Both sessions were sellouts, with an attendance of 14,382. The Iowa site had the best attendance of the 16 sites for the first round. Arizona was second with 9,573.
“To get that many people into a gym to watch women’s sports, I think that’s huge,” Czinano said.
“I apologize to our fans that they couldn’t celebrate a victory with us today,” Bluder said.
Creighton: Flanery said on Saturday that playing in this game in front of a national television audience would be a chance to showcase his program, and the Bluejays took advantage of the spotlight to reach the regional semifinals.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes had the homecourt advantage, but struggled to get a lead against Creighton until late. The program had made back-to-back appearances in the second weekend of the tournament.
Creighton will play Iowa State on Friday.
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