Creighton Bluejays stun Iowa Hawkeyes in NCAA women's basketball tournament, hold Caitlin Clark to 15 points

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The first of the top 16 seeds in the women's NCAA basketball tournament went tumbling Sunday despite playing in front of a standing-room-only crowd cheering for the Division I leader in scoring and assists.

No. 10 seed Creighton wasn't intimidated by the fans, No. 2 seed Iowa or star Caitlin Clark, knocking off the Hawkeyes 64-62 in the second round. The Bluejays are in a regional final for the first time in program history, moving on to the Sweet 16 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Making it sting even a little more for the Hawkeyes? Creighton sophomore guard Lauren Jensen, who made a 3-pointer for what turned out to be the winning points with 15 seconds left, transferred after playing at Iowa last season.

"Obviously, I'm pretty familiar with the arena because I played here all of last year," said Jensen, who led Creighton with 19 points. "On the flip side, there's also some nerves with that because I'm wearing a different color this year. But I feel like it did help."

The Hawkeyes lament a tough ending to a season in which they shared the Big Ten regular-season title and won the league tournament title, the first time in program history they had done both in the same year. But Creighton's five-out offense was something that worried Iowa coming in, and that proved to be part of the Hawkeyes' undoing.

The Bluejays sent notice that they meant business with an 84-74 victory over No. 7 seed Colorado on Friday in the first round, and they led for much of the game Sunday. Iowa got two shots at the game-tying basket, but both fell short as the buzzer sounded. The Bluejays celebrated with their group of blue-clad fans surrounded by disappointed thousands in black and gold at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It was the seventh victory by a double-digit seed so far in the women's tournament this season, with two of those coming from the Bluejays.

Iowa's 62 points were the fewest the Hawkeyes have scored the past two seasons, during which Clark has been a scoring sensation. But Sunday, she was held to a season-low 15 points, going 4-of-19 from the field, including 0-of-8 in the second half.

It was also the fewest points the Hawkeyes have scored in a home game since scoring 58 against Notre Dame in 2016. Clark entered the game averaging 27.4 points and 7.9 assists but struggled for much of Sunday's game on the scoring front, although she did have 11 assists.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder pointed out that Iowa averaged 18 free throws a game but shot just eight on Sunday. The referees, for the most part, let both teams play pretty physically. Clark, though, didn't make the officiating a focus.

"I would have liked to get more calls; I could say that every single game," Clark said. "Coach Bluder could say that every single game. Our opponent could say it every single game. I'm not gonna sit here and make excuses for how I play. I think just coming back and working harder than I ever have is really all I can do."

Bluder complimented Creighton and Jensen, calling her "a really, really good kid. Obviously, that's an incredible storyline."

The 5-foot-10 Jensen played in 17 games, averaging 1.4 points per game last season for Iowa, which made the Sweet 16 and fell there to UConn. Jensen opted to transfer and found a good fit at Creighton. She's averaging 12.6 points per game this season for the Bluejays, who are 22-9.

"It was a great environment," Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. "It wasn't necessarily the game I envisioned. I did not think the game would be in the low 60s, and it certainly did not start out that way. It started out like it was going to be 98-93 or somewhere in that range."

Creighton and Iowa have had preseason scrimmages against each other for several years, including before this season, and Iowa knew how difficult it would be to defend the Bluejays. Not just because of their 3-point shooting -- Creighton made 10 of 34 attempts -- but because of the long rebounds that the Bluejays often produce. Iowa just didn't adjust well enough to that and was outrebounded 52-37.

The Hawkeyes expected more from their offense, which shot a season-low 35.8%.

Center Monika Czinano had a team-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting, but she and forward McKenna Warnock missed shots in the paint in the final 3 seconds. In all, the Hawkeyes missed 23 shots in close to the basket.

"A wonderful opportunity for a women's basketball game today on ABC in front of a sold-out crowd," Clark said. "I just feel bad for the fans, because they've given us so much over these past two weeks, really willed us to a regular-season title here at home versus Michigan. And I hope they come out and support us the exact same way next year. I know they will.

"I think there's a lot of exciting basketball ahead for this group, but obviously the feeling of letting them down, letting the coaches down, our teammates down, it stinks right now. But I think overall just more fuel for us going into next year."