WICHITA, Kan. — The Creighton women's basketball team was on a pace to score 135 points after the first three minutes and 26 seconds of Saturday night's game against Wichita State.
The fact that the Bluejays scored 34 points in the final 36-plus minutes should tell you something about how the rest of the game went for them.
After slipping Creighton's first punch, Wichita State turned up the defensive pressure and rolled to a 67-45 victory before 2,117 at Koch Arena. The Shockers, playing without two injured starters, forced 22 turnovers, with 15 coming on steals.
“The common ground in three of our four losses is that they came to teams that got up, got physical and pressured us,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “That's about a mentality of toughness and not being so reliant on the 3.”
Creighton's normal effectiveness from beyond the arc failed the Bluejays (12-4, 4-1) against the Shockers (10-6, 4-0), who took over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley.
Creighton came into the game second nationally in 3-point baskets (9.3 per game) and eighth in percentage (.381). Against the Shockers, the Bluejays shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, the same percentage they did from inside it.
Wichita State, which turned the 22 turnovers into 22 points, shot a lot of layups. The Shockers tried just eight 3-point attempts, making just one, but shot 51.9 percent from the field.
“Even though their pressure was all we talked about in practice, we let it get to us,” Creighton forward Sarah Nelson said. “They're a good pressure team, and we didn't respond the way we should have. We definitely struggled.”
Nelson led the Bluejays with 17 points, while Ally Jensen added 10. The Bluejays got only 18 points from their other seven players, with their normally solid bench contributing just three points.
Alex Harden led Wichita State with 20 points, but it was the scoring of Jasmine Jones and Michelle Price that really hurt the Bluejays. Jones, averaging two points a game, finished with 16, while Price had 14 after scoring an average of 4.5 in her first 15 games.
“They're not a great outside -shooting team, so if we're going to give them easy baskets, they're going to get some confidence,” Jensen said. “That's what happened tonight.”
It was Creighton that appeared headed for an easy time early on. The Bluejays made four of their first seven shots, one a 3-pointer by Jensen, and mixed in a couple of free throws in roaring to its 11-0 lead.
“Maybe after getting up like that, I think we started thinking that we had it figured out,” Flanery said. “Clearly, we didn't.”
The Shockers countered by scoring 14 straight to take the lead. Creighton battled back to tie the game at 19, but Wichita State closed the half with a 9-5 spurt to take a four-point halftime lead.
The Shockers scored the first five points of the second half, and the Bluejays never got closer than five points after that.
“We never got into any kind of rhythm,” Nelson said. “We'd get a basket and then turn it right back over. We never allowed ourselves to get back in that game.”
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