Jensen leads Creighton past Iowa in NCAA second round

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lauren Jensen found a new place last spring when she transferred from Iowa to Creighton.

She came back into her former home and knocked her ex-teammates out of the women’s NCAA tournament.

Jensen scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 12 seconds left that lifted No. 10 seed Creighton over Caitlin Clark and second-seeded Iowa 64-62 in a Greensboro Region second-round game.

Iowa (24-8), which shared the Big Ten regular-season title and won the conference tournament, had two chances to tie the game in the closing three seconds. Monika Czinano missed a layup with three seconds left, then Kate Martin missed a putback as time ran out.

Jensen scored nine of the Bluejays’ last 10 points.

“I’ve gotten the question a lot,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “‘How is Lauren going to feel today, what’s Lauren going to play like, da da da da?’ Those last few minutes had to be magical and special, and we’re super proud of her and we’re super proud that she’s part of our program.”

“Right away from summer workouts, this team welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home and a part of the team, and I’m just so grateful for that,” Jensen said. “To be able to do that with them here today is just so great.”

Jensen had a layup with 1:26 left to cut Iowa’s lead to 62-60, then her 3-pointer gave the Bluejays a lead.

“I just wanted to go in and play my game and didn’t know what to expect with a sold out crowd,” she said. “Play my game and play with my teammates and hopefully come out with the win, which we did.”

“She goes over there and she comes back and beats us on our home court, and I want to congratulate her because she’s a great kid,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She is a really, really good kid. I’m happy for her. I wish it wasn’t in this situation, but I am happy for her that she’s found a really good home and is really having a lot of success.”

After Clark missed a layup Emma Ronziek made the second of two free throws for the final margin.

Ronziek and Payton Brotzki had 13 points for the Bluejays (22-9), who advance to their first Sweet 16. They were the seventh double-digit seed to win in the women’s NCAA Tournament so far, matching the record set in 1998.

“This is for everyone who has played at Creighton and put on a uniform in the past,” Flanery said. “So happy for everyone who has been here. It means a lot. we have so much respect for Iowa and their program. The familiarity led to a lower scoring game than I anticipated. To make a Sweet 16 is really special.”

Czinano led Iowa with 27 points. Clark, who came into the game as the nation’s leading scorer at 27.4 points per game, finished with 15. Clark had a rough game, shooting just 4-for-19 from the field, including missing all eight shots in the second half.

“I missed some bunnies I usually make,” Clark said. “But that’s how basketball goes.”

Creighton led by as much as 12 points in the first half before a six-point Iowa run in the final two minutes cut the Bluejays’ lead to 38-32 at halftime. The Hawkeyes struggled offensively outside of Clark and Czinano, who had Iowa’s first 26 points of the game.

Iowa, which ranked second in the nation in scoring at 84.9 points per game, was held to a season-low in points.

ANOTHER IOWA CONNECTION

Creighton guard Rachel Saunders is an Iowa City native. Her father, Mike, played football at Iowa.

SELLOUT CROWD

Both sessions were sellouts, with an attendance of 14,382. The Iowa site had the best attendance of the 16 sites for the first round. Arizona was second with 9,573.

“To get that many people into a gym to watch women’s sports, I think that’s huge,” Czinano said.

“I apologize to our fans that they couldn’t celebrate a victory with us today,” Bluder said.

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: Flanery said on Saturday that playing in this game in front of a national television audience would be a chance to showcase his program, and the Bluejays took advantage of the spotlight to reach the regional semifinals.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes had the homecourt advantage, but struggled to get a lead against Creighton until late. The program had made back-to-back appearances in the second weekend of the tournament.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.