Home court heartbreak: Iowa women’s basketball stunned by Creighton in second round of NCAA Tournament

The 10th-seeded Bluejays upset the second-seeded Hawkeyes, 64-62, on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Grace Smith

Iowa center Monika Czinano walks off the court after a 2022 NCAA Second Round women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 10 Creighton in sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, March 20, 2022. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 64-62, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

The second-seeded Hawkeyes had one final chance as Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder took a timeout with three seconds left on the game clock. 

Iowa was down two points coming out of the timeout, and junior guard Kate Martin held the ball at half court. She inbounded the ball to senior center Monika Czinano, who turned around in the paint for a hook shot.

The ball bounced off the rim.

“I had a hook shot,” Czinano said postgame. “I’ve shot a million hook shots in my life, and that one just happened to not go in. We run that play a lot. We needed to run that play and it was just unfortunate that it didn’t go in.”

After Czinano missed, Martin’s shot barely touched the net. Junior forward McKenna Warnock grabbed the offensive rebound, and threw the ball toward the rim as the buzzer sounded. 

Carver-Hawkeye Arena’s 14,382 fans were shocked into silence as Warnock’s last chance bounced off the backboard. 

The second-seeded Iowa women’s basketball team was officially upset on its sold-out home court by 10th-seeded Creighton, 64-62, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

“Our crowd today was amazing again,” Bluder said. “ … I apologize to our fans that they couldn’t celebrate a victory with us today. They have been amazing all year, but boy, these last three games, they’ve been incredible.”

The Hawkeyes watched in silence as the Bluejays stormed the center of the court. While Iowa quickly vacated the arena hardwood, mourning its highly anticipated postseason run coming to an early end, Creighton celebrated making the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

Creighton held Iowa — a team that ranks second in the nation with 84.9 points per game — to a season-low 62 points. Creighton ranks 10th in Division I women’s basketball with 75.1 points per game, but only scored 64 on Sunday. 

“I think both teams missed opportunities,” Creighton head coach Jim Flanery said. “ … Tatum [Rembao] missed that wide open layup late, but Iowa missed a lot of wide open threes. So, I think it was familiarity, but I don’t think either team probably played as well offensively as their best.”

The Hawkeyes were thrown off by the Bluejays’ five-guard offense on Sunday afternoon. Iowa is used to defending the paint — a commonality with Big Ten opponents. But instead of crowding the lane, Creighton packed the 3-point line. 

Creighton went 10-of-34 from beyond the arc for a 29.4 shooting percentage. Iowa only made five shots from the 3-point line off of 22 attempts.

“I just want to congratulate Creighton,” Bluder said. “A very well-played game, executed really well, defended really well. That’s a hard matchup for us. Five guards is a hard matchup. We knew that. But they did a great job.”

While Creighton’s BIG EAST-style offense bewildered the Hawkeyes, Bluder also had a problem with the NCAA’s officiating on Sunday afternoon. The 21-year Hawkeye head coach said the referees called the game differently than Iowa’s regular season contests.

There was an average of 34 fouls per game in Iowa’s 2021-22 regular season, Bluder said, and the Hawkeyes usually got to the free throw line 18 times. On Sunday, officials called just 22 fouls and Iowa shot from the charity stripe eight times.

“There just weren’t many whistles,” Bluder said. “I don’t mind if it’s called, but call it that way in November, call it that way in December, January, February. Don’t come in March and change our style of officiating. That’s what frustrates me.”

The Hawkeyes will have to sit on their second round exit until the 2022-23 season begins in November. Iowa is returning all five starters for the second straight season in 2022-23.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” Bluder said. “I love them. I can’t believe I don’t get to go to practice tomorrow. That’s the hardest thing for me right now, is that I don’t get to go to practice tomorrow.”