Iowa women’s basketball playing with chip on shoulder after early-round NCAA Tournament exit in 2022

The Hawkeyes lost to Creighton in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. This season, Iowa is committed to not letting that happen again.


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, Sports Editor

A No. 2 seed team at the NCAA Tournament wouldn’t typically be playing with a chip on its shoulder in the first weekend. As the host of its region in the first weekend, it should expect to get to the second week of the tournament.

But the Hawkeyes know what’s at stake if they don’t stay locked in.

Last season, the second-seeded Iowa women’s basketball team lost to 10th-seeded Creighton, 64-62, in the round of 32 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, with former Hawkeye Lauren Jensen sinking the game-deciding 3-pointer.

Creighton went on to beat Iowa State in the Sweet 16 in Greensboro, South Carolina, before falling to eventual national champion South Carolina in the Elite Eight.

This season, the Hawkeyes — who are a No. 2 seed for the second straight season and hosting the tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena — are determined to not let it happen again.

“I think, obviously, our early exit last year will always provide that fire for us,” junior guard Caitlin Clark said. “No matter what point we’re at in the tournament, whether we make it out of this weekend and move on to the next, we still feel like we have a lot to prove, and we believe we’re one of the best teams in America.”

Iowa was podded with the Southland Conference’s Southeastern Louisiana as the No. 15 seed, Florida State out of the ACC as the No. 7 seed, and the SEC’s Georgia as the No. 10 seed.

While the No. 2 seed is usually safe — at least in the first round — against the No. 15 seed, the Hawkeyes have also proved that anything can happen. 

Seniors Kate Martin and Monika Czinano were on the Hawkeye squad in 2019 when 15th-seeded Mercer nearly took down second-seeded Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Mercer had a 51-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and pushed its lead to four points during the final 10 minutes. But Iowa barely pulled off a victory, 66-61, with a 14-5 run at the end of the game. 

And with that close victory, Martin learned to take no team for granted.

“Anybody who gets into the NCAA Tournament, especially a 15 seed, 16 seed, whoever, you have nothing to lose,” Martin said. “They’re coming in here and they want to play their best game. Anyone who steps into Carver wants to have their best game. You can’t overlook anybody. You can’t get to your next step if you can’t take care of the first game. That’s what we really emphasize is just taking it game by game, one step at a time.”

Iowa will take on Southeastern Louisiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 3 p.m.

The Lions are 21-9 overall and won their way into their first-ever Big Dance with a victory over Lamar in the Southland Conference Tournament.

But the Hawkeyes know the Lions won’t go away quietly — they have a chip on their shoulder, as well.

“I think when you’re playing in March Madness, anybody is going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder,” Clark said. “We know that they played their conference championship without their best player and still were capable of winning that. … I think they’re coming in here with nothing to lose, and that’s kind of how it goes when you get to this point of the season.”