No. 20 Creighton starts hot, sinks Northern Iowa

UNI coach disappointed The Panthers didn’t fight back in the 85:66 defeat against the Bluejays

No. 20 Creighton starts hot, sinks Northern Iowa

CEDAR FALLS — No. 20 Creighton overpowered northern Iowa at the McLeod Center on Sunday, driving to an 85-66 win.

A tough first quarter boded well for the future, as the Panthers shot just 29 percent (4 of 14) from the field and committed seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Creighton guard Lauren Jensen (15) dribbles during the second half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament in Greensboro, NC, Friday March 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The Bluejays (4-0) continued to extend their lead in the second quarter as former Hawkeye Lauren Jensen scored six of their 19 points while UNI (2-2) continued their shooting battles, coming off just six of their next 16 attempts from 23 to 23 halftime.

“I’ll be honest, I was very disappointed in the first half. I thought we were in Cancun mode instead of Creighton mode,” said UNI coach Tanya Warren. “We weren’t trapped on either side of basketball. I was extremely disappointed with our energy, our commitment and our focus in the first half.”

Creighton junior forward Emma Ronsiek posted a game-high 23 points in the win and was assisted in double digits by Jensen (19), Morgan Maly (14) and Carly Bachelor (11).

Ronsiek was also instrumental in slowing down UNI top scorer Grace Boffelli by taking the runners-up to a season-low nine points.

“At half-time the coaches were saying that the main thing we were doing was hesitation,” said Maya McDemott, UNI’s second-class ward. “We didn’t move the ball and I think that was our goal in the second half and look at the results. We played better in the second half (in). We have to play aggressively from the start.”

Half-time adjustments helped UNI win the third quarter 23-20, but the half-time deficit was too big to overcome. Especially when you only shoot 4 of 19 on 3-pointers.

McDermott and freshman Ryley Goebel each scored 14 points – which was a career high for Goebel.

“I thought we played a little more fight in the second half, but it was game over,” Warren said. “Where this team needs to be able to grow, we need to be ready to play every game. Every time we adjust it. We weren’t ready to play the first half and honestly it started with a shootaround this morning.”

Next, UNI travels to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge. The Panthers will play Tulane (2-1) on Thursday and Vanderbilt (5-0) on Friday.