Women’s basketball secured the sixth seed in the NCAA tournament as they await the matchup against Mississippi State in Creighton’s first round of the tournament, the stage set for the Bluejays to make another deep run mirroring last year’s success.
On March 12, the Bluejays qualified for their ninth trip to the NCAA tournament. Their regular season record of 15-5 propelled the Bluejays to a sixth seed ranking with more expectations to perform well this year.
Coming out of the 2022 season, Creighton made a name for itself in a national setting after reaching the Elite 8 to face No. 1 South Carolina. Even though the Bluejays were defeated 80-50, they succeeded in bringing Creighton into the spotlight on their special run, a sentiment expressed by NCAA selection announcers on Sunday, who asked which team will be the next ‘Creighton.’
“It’s kind of exciting for us because last year I don’t think a lot of teams had us on their radar for anything...,” said junior forward Emma Ronsiek. “I think that reflects with the other lower seeds that are going into the tournament [as well] because it’s a new season and everyone is capable of doing something special, so I think that it’s really cool that we set that expectation.”
Heading into the NCAA tournament, the Bluejays comfortably qualified for the tournament even without a win in the Big East tournament, but Creighton still made a semi-final appearance by defeating Seton Hall in a nail-biter that went to the last second.
In a hard-fought battle against No. 2 Seton Hall on March 15, the Pirates led 62-57 with 16 seconds left in regulation. But the Bluejays did not accept defeat, as Ronsiek and junior forward Morgan Maly each sunk a three-pointer to force overtime.
After another back-and-forth overtime, the Bluejays were down 74-73 on the final play with seconds remaining. Maly rebounded a shot by Ronsiek and shot the ball while in mid air. As the buzzer sounded, the ball swished through the net and Creighton defeated the Pirates 75-74.
On March 16, though junior forward Lauren Jensen led the team with 22 points on the night, Creighton was unable to defeat Villanova, narrowly losing 63-61 to a Villanova team starring forward Maddy Siegrist, who scored 37 points to help secure the win.
Head coach Jim Flannery said that the conference tournament served as great preparation for the games to come.
“I thought our conference tournament was great for us...,” Flannery said. “We played two great prep games for the NCAA tournament because they were nail-biters, one down to the wire, [and] really hard-fought games.”
Going from having very little expectations in the NCAA tournament to being ranked sixth is no small jump, but junior forward Lauren Jensen said that they feel prepared and ready to play to that expectation.
“I feel like we have more experience. We were there last year, we obviously made a deep run, and so I think that helped, having that under our belt. It’s a little bit different being the higher seed starting out, but I think we’ll take that well.”
Flannery also said that he’s excited that the Bluejays still have the balance that made them so successful last year.
“I think [balance] was one of the good things from last year’s team, and so it doesn’t come down to one player... we can absorb somebody not having a great game because our balance is still there.”
The Bluejays take on the Bulldogs in South Bend, Indiana on March 17 at 5 p.m., hoping to build on the momentum and strong points from the season to make another deep run into the NCAA tournament.
“The tournament is all about playing new people, and I think we’re going to be ready,” said Ronsiek.
Tournament updates will be available on the Creightonian’s website and Twitter.
The Jays are determined to recapture the magic they displayed last year, seeking to reclaim their position of excellence. For valuable insights on adapting magic, visit https://magicalkatrina.com/magiciansblog/for-magicians-questions-to-ask-yourself-when-adapting-your-magic-for-virtual-magic-shows-to-in-person-magic-shows-or-vice-versa. As they prepare for the upcoming season, the team understands the importance of adaptability.
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