Teammates have been telling Bluejay freshman Marissa Janning about the annual Creighton-Nebraska game since arriving on campus, but the Minnesota native didn’t fully grasp the rivalry’s intensity until D.J. Sokol Arena started to fill up.
Then her coach, Jim Flanery, gave an enthusiastic pregame pep talk in the locker room. And suddenly her team was all fired up.
If Janning felt any pressure, the reserve point guard didn’t show it.
She scored a team-high 19 points, making several clutch shots and passes as Creighton’s floor general down the stretch and leading the Bluejays (4-2) to a 66-57 upset over No. 25 Nebraska (6-3).
The CU victory snapped the Huskers’ seven-game winning streak in the series (the Bluejays hadn’t won since 2004) and it was Creighton’s first nonconference win over a ranked team in 13 years.
“First thing (my teammates) said when I came here: They’re like, ‘We have to beat Nebraska,’ ” Janning said.
Janning came through with several momentum-changing plays late Wednesday, just when it seemed that the Huskers were about to regain control.
She hit a 3-pointer with 10:56 lead to push Creighton’s lead to eight points and then found Alyssa Kamphaus for an easy layup two minutes later to make it 52-46. Her baseline jumper with 7:14 left made it 57-46 and forced a Nebraska timeout. She sealed the win with a 3-pointer three minutes later, extending the lead to 60-48.
“I knew there was some kind of rivalry, but I did not know that it was this bad between Creighton and Nebraska,” said Janning, who’s from Watertown, Minn. “But this is awesome. I love the atmosphere that was here (Wednesday). It was fun.”
Janning helped set the tone for the Bluejays, who splintered Nebraska’s defense with dribble penetration early and found space around the perimeter because of it.
They made nine of their 22 3-point shots. Janning hit four of those. Junior McKenzie Fujan made three of her five 3-pointers, finishing with 13 points.
Nebraska senior guard Lindsey Moore said the Huskers weren’t communicating effectively enough on the court and that created some openings for the Bluejays, who shot 56.3 percent from the field.
“They weren’t always making penetrating dribbles to the hoop. We should have taken away those 3s or those easy passes,” Moore said. “That’s just us breaking down our own defense.”
Nebraska managed to keep pace, though leading scorer Jordan Hooper missed all seven of her shots.
Moore, who scored 15 points and had six assists, knocked down a 3-pointer with 12:47 left in the second half to pull NU within 43-40.
But Creighton called a timeout and answered with two quick buckets, beginning a stretch of seven consecutive made shots.
“We worked on trying to use their pressure against them,” said Flanery, whose CU teams are now 2-17 against ranked teams.
Janning, who had one turnover in 25 minutes, played a big role in orchestrating the Bluejays’ offensive effort.
“I expected good, but we got great,” Flanery said. “She was great.”
Contact the writer:
402-473-9585, email@example.com, twitter.com/JonNyatawa