Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  NCAA basketball

After saying Iowa is ‘not a big defensive team,’ Southeastern Louisiana flustered by Iowa’s zone defense

March 17, 2023 Updated Fri., March 17, 2023 at 11:15 p.m.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark goes to the basket against Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions guard Cierria Cunningham at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena during the the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Getty Images)
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark goes to the basket against Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions guard Cierria Cunningham at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena during the the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday in Iowa City, Iowa. (Getty Images)
By John Steppe (Iowa) Gazette

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Southeastern Louisiana Coach Ayla Guzzardo did not have high praise for Iowa’s defense before the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

“They’re not a big defensive team,” Guzzardo told WDSU-TV, a station in New Orleans. “They don’t really want to play defense as much as we love to play defense.”

Iowa proved Guzzardo wrong in definitive fashion Friday in its 95-43 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Southeastern Louisiana shot 25% and 18% from 3-point range. The second half was especially dreadful for the visiting Lions, who had 11 points on 3-for-32 shooting.

Guzzardo said Iowa had a “great game plan” Friday.

Iowa’s zone defense was particularly troublesome for the Lions.

“We had to punch more gaps and attack more when we go in there with the bigs,” Southeast guard Jen Pierre said. “They are forcing us to shoot the outside shots.”

The Lions were 4 of 22 from 3-point range, worse than their 30% season average.

“In our league, if we are making four 3s, it’s a good game for us,” Guzzardo said. “We can’t make four 3s going against Iowa. We have to be able to shoot the ball consistently from the 3-point line, and that would help open up our inside game a little bit more.”

Guzzardo said she “anticipated” the zone, but did not think it was necessary.

“When you look at a Big Ten team, you think they can guard a little Southland school,” Guzzardo said Friday after the 52-point loss. “I’ll be honest with you. You would think they could guard us man-to-man.”

Iowa did guard Southeastern in man-to-man defense early on, though, and had a 28-17 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Star guard Caitlin Clark said the man-on-man defense was doing “OK.”

“But it wasn’t working as what we would have liked,” Clark said. “We like to change up our defense quite a bit. It keeps people on their toes.”

The zone also allowed Iowa to “preserve our legs a little bit,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said, ahead of a quick two-day turnaround. Iowa plays again Sunday against 10th-seeded Georgia with a Sweet 16 berth on the line.

“Why run around and chase screens if you don’t have to,” Bluder said. “When you’re going to play again on Sunday, it’s kind of nice to be able to sit in a zone and maybe not have to play all those screens.”

As for Guzzardo’s pre-tournament comments, she also talked about making star Clark’s life “miserable.” One of her players said they’re “not scared of anybody.”

“If anything, they should be scared of us,” guard Hailey Giaratano said before shooting 1-for-11 for four points against Iowa.

Meanwhile in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes heard those comments.

“We take a little personal when people say we don’t want to play defense because that’s not true,” guard Kate Martin said. “We do enjoy playing defense. … We do a lot of good things on defense.”

Friday’s 52-point win is Exhibit A for Martin’s case.

Friday’s results

Seattle Regional 3

(1) Virginia Tech 58, (16) Chattanooga 33

(9) South Dakota State 62,(8) USC 57 (OT)

Seattle Regional 4

(8) Ole Miss 78, (9) Gonzaga 41

(2) Iowa 95, (15) SE Louisiana 43

(10) Georgia 66, (7) Florida State 54

(1) Stanford 92, (16) Sacred Heart 49

Greenville Regional 1

(1) South Carolina 72, (16) Norfolk State 40

(2) Maryland 93, (15) Holy Cross 61

(3) Notre Dame 82, (14) Southern Utah 56

(7) Arizona 75, (10) West Virginia 62

(8) South Florida 67, (9) Marquette 65

(11) Mississippi State 81, (6) Creighton 66

Greenville Regional 2

(10) Princeton 64, (7) NC State 63

(2) Utah 103, (15) Gardner-Webb 77

(3) LSU 73, (14) Hawaii 50

(6) Michigan 71, (11) UNLV 59

Saturday’s games

Greenville Regional 1

(5) Oklahoma vs. (12) Portland, 6 p.m.

(4) UCLA vs. (13) Sacramento State, 8:30 p.m.

Greenville Regional 2

(1) Indiana vs. (16) Tennessee Tech, 8:30 a.m.

(8) Oklahoma State vs. (9) Miami, 11 a.m.

(5) Washington State vs. (12) Florida Gulf Coast, 11:30 a.m.

(4) Villanova vs. (13) Cleveland State, 2 p.m.

Seattle Regional 3

(4) Tennessee vs. (13) Saint Louis, 10 a.m.

(3) Ohio State vs. (14) James Madison, 10:30 a.m.

(2) UConn vs. (15) Vermont, noon

(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Toledo, 12:30 p.m.

(7) Baylor vs. (10) Alabama, 2:30 p.m.

(6) North Carolina vs. (11) St. John’s, 1 p.m.

Seattle Regional 4

(6) Colorado vs. (11) Middle Tennessee, 4 p.m.

(5) Louisville vs. (12) Drake, 4:30 p.m.

(3) Duke vs. (14) Iona, 6:30 p.m.

(4) Texas vs. (13) East Carolina, 7 p.m.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.