By Jordan Zuniga
LOS ANGELES — In a city known for its lack of rain, Iowa ran into a flood of 3-pointers from Creighton in a 76-70 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 17.
That storm came courtesy of Jaylyn Agnew and Sydney Lamberty, who combined for 44 points and went 6-of-9 from 3-point land.
What made it especially difficult for Iowa was Creighton hit more than just shots from behind the arc. It seemed that no matter what kind of shot the Bluejays threw up, it went in the hoop.
Several times with the shot clock winding down, Creighton threw up what seemed to be a prayer that somehow found its way into the hoop.
“When you bank in a 3, it means things are going pretty well for you,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “They made some clutch shots as the shot clock was expiring. Both [Agnew and Lamberty] did a really, really good job.”
It seemed like everything went the way of the Bluejays. Several times late in the game, the Hawkeyes had an opportunity to make it a one-possession game. Every time, Creighton held and ensured Iowa didn’t get any momentum.
With the constant punches thrown by the Bluejays, it’s a wonder the Hawkeyes were able to keep fighting.
“We’re at the NCAA Tournament, so we’re not going to let anything get to us,” junior forward Hannah Stewart said. “We tried not to let their shots get to us, but they just didn’t seem to miss.”
Another contributing factor to the Hawkeye loss was the play of their offense, which, outside of Stewart and Megan Gustafson, couldn’t seem to get anything to fall.
Gustafson had her usual: a double-double, 29 points and 17 rebounds. It was a fitting performance for one of the best seasons a Hawkeye has ever had.
Her second basket of the night gave her 800 points for the season. To put that in perspective, no Hawkeye — man or woman — had ever reached the 700-point mark before Gustafson.
After Gustafson, Stewart gave Iowa 20 quality minutes off the bench in which she dropped 10 points and grabbed 3 rebounds.
Behind her, the Iowa offense was nonexistent. Excluding Stewart and Gustafson, the Hawkeyes shot just 28 percent (9-of-32), and that’s just how Creighton wanted it.
“We knew that [Gustafson] was going to be important in this game,” Lamberty said. “She had a really good game, but we just needed to shut down their players on the perimeter and let Gustafson do her thing.”
Looking at Iowa’s stat sheet, it doesn’t take long to realize that Creighton was extremely successful in its game plan.
Starting point guard Kathleen Doyle couldn’t get anything to fall. Although she put up 11 points, she shot just 3-of-15 from the floor.
Makenzie Meyer suffered foul trouble all night, limiting her to just four shots, and Lexi Sevillian struggled to find open shots and took just three.
It’s a rough way to end a stellar season for the Hawkeyes, but the team only loses two players — one starter — so they hope to be back in the Dance next year with a vengeance.
“We’re all ticked off that we lost that game,” Doyle said. “It’s just going to motivate us next year. We’re going to work hard in the offseason, get better, and come back hungry next season.”