Dec. 28, 2003
IOWA CITY, IA. —Two three-pointers by an Iowan decided Sunday’s rematch of last season’s WNIT quarterfinal between Iowa and Creighton. Unfortunately, that Iowan was playing for the Bluejays.
With 26 seconds remaining in regulation, Iowa senior Jennie Lillis made a three-pointer that broke the third tie of the second half between the Hawkeyes and Creighton in the hopes of avenging last season’s dual defeats at the hands of the Bluejays. But two more three-pointers by Sara Hildebrand “crushed” the Hawks and lifted Creighton to an 84-72 overtime victory inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Hildebrand equalized Lillis’s last-seconds heroics at 16 seconds and sent the match-up into overtime, the second extra-time scenario Iowa’s faced this season. And with another long shot 21 seconds into the first added period, Hildebrand made sure the second Hawkeye OT ended the same way as the first, when Iowa State defeated Iowa 101-94.
“Someone needed to step up and make a shot,” said Hildebrand, a native of Norwalk, IA. “The coaches were telling me (the Hawkeyes) weren’t guarding me at all out there so I drove in and the defender followed, so I was open at the top of the key.
“It was a great feeling to be able to contribute and help out our team. We really needed the ‘W’, and it was an awesome team victory.”
Hildebrand’s first three-pointers of the season started an 11-2 run for the Bluejays in extra time. Only Lillis and fellow senior Kristi Faulkner could attempt to stop the haemorrhaging, but they only added one point apiece on free throws. Lillis had 17 points, six assists and four rebounds in the game.
“Both teams had to feel, in a sense, they got lucky and in a sense they were unlucky to be in overtime,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “I think we had to be disappointed that we led the second half most of the time and then they made the charge and went up three. But then Sara made those shots.
“I just told the team that as big as the shot was at the end of regulation, the one in overtime was almost as big, because that first possession in overtime says a lot about how you’re going to play. If you get down and get tired in overtime, you’re not going to be able to execute like you need to.”
The lack of an offensive strike in overtime, especially after a momentum-building comeback to close regulation, worried Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, whose squad drops to 6-4 on the year.
“I thought we had great momentum,” she said. “We were down nine points with nine minutes to go, and to come back with a three-point lead with 20 seconds to go, even though we don’t maintain that, I still think we had great momentum. I felt very strongly we were going to win this game, but we don’t score a field goal in overtime, which is really alarming.
“We don’t know why we were so flat in the overtime.”
The puzzlement carried over to the players.
“I don’t know what exactly happened in overtime,” said junior Jamie Cavey, who had a team-leading 17 points and 10 rebounds. “I wish I could tell you because we probably could have tried to stop it then. I think it was just a combination of things. I’m not really sure what right now, but we’ll figure it out.”
The Hawkeyes won’t have long to work out the kinks in their system. Iowa travels to Missouri on Tuesday, in a scenario not unlike the previous OT loss where the Hawkeyes only had a day layover but went on to defeat Marquette.
“We need to work on defense,” Lillis said. “It’s the same old thing. We need to get consistent. Getting consistent will help us win ball games. We haven’t been consistent recently.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com