• Box Score: Creighton 78, Bradley 58
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The Creighton women's basketball team was in need of a boost, and Carli Tritz saw her opening.
The star freshman scampered after a loose ball near the Bluejay bench in the second half and dove after it. She wound up crashing into her teammates and landing among the fans.
“I was going for a steal, something to get the energy going,” she said.
Tritz scored 15 points after halftime as Creighton held off Bradley for a 73-58 Missouri Valley Conference victory before 1,014 at D.J. Sokol Arena. The win wasn't exactly pretty, perhaps a product of an emotional hangover following a Thursday night bummer.
The Bluejays lost by one point to Northern Iowa, the team that defeated Creighton by that same margin in last season's Valley tournament final.
“I just felt like it was going to be a tough game to get up for,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “We played well in stretches, but we certainly didn't play as well as we're going to need to. … I felt like too many times we weren't on the same page at either end.”
Take the way the Bluejays defended Bradley forward MacKenzie Westcott as an example. Creighton led by as many as 13 in the first half only to see Westcott score the final seven points of the half to keep Bradley within five at halftime. Westcott, who went 8 for 12 from the field for 18 points, entered the game averaging less than seven points per contest.
The struggles for Creighton carried early into the second half when Kelsey Budd dribbled more than half the court and scored a layup without any Bluejays bothering to get in front of her. That had Flanery jumping off his seat and screaming at his squad after calling a timeout.
Also troubling, Flanery said, was a 42-33 Bradley rebounding edge, including 12 offensive boards.
“That was probably the most disappointing thing,” the coach said. “I felt that they were more physical than we were. In the first half we only had three offensive boards on 20 misses. In the second half I felt like we let them kind of beat us up on the glass.”
But Flanery had the comfort of knowing he had Tritz to lean on. Tritz, who ended with team highs of 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, helped put Bradley away during a four-minute stretch in the second half.
She drilled all three of her 3-pointers and hit two free throws in that span to take a five-point lead to 12 with 9:24 left.
“If Carli doesn't have that one good stretch in the second half,” Flanery said, “we were in danger.”
Sam Schuett had 11 points and seven rebounds and Kellie Nelson added 10 points for the Bluejays, who took a season-high 36 3-point shots, connecting on just nine.
Still, Creighton improved to 10-6 and 4-1 in the Valley, remaining one-half game behind leader Northern Iowa. That had Tritz sporting a wide smile when it was over.
“It was a good win for us,” Tritz said. “We needed it.”
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