One 13-0 spurt Thursday night provided Creighton with a good start against Missouri State.
A second provided the Bluejays with a much-needed win.
Creighton broke open a close game with a decisive run over a 4½-minute span of the second half to post a 67-51 victory over the Lady Bears and snap a two-game losing skid.
“We needed this win,” Creighton guard Marissa Janning said. “Now, if we can beat Wichita we can make up for those two losses that we had last week and still have a chance of winning the conference.”
The win, before 762 at D.J. Sokol Arena, improved CU to 17-6 and 9-3 in the Missouri Valley. The Bluejays stayed two games behind league-leading Wichita State, which will visit Sokol on Saturday for a 3:05 p.m. game.
“We're still in the race,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “We play four of our next six at home, and they have four of their next six on the road. They still have to make the trip we just made when we dropped two.
“I'm excited. It's our Pink Out game and it will be fun. I think our fans will enjoy the game. It won't be pretty, but it will be competitive.”
Thursday's game was far from a thing of beauty. The Bluejays had streaks where they played very well, such as when they scored the game's first 13 points. They also had moments when they appeared to be on the verge of unraveling.
What Creighton did have that Missouri State didn't is one last decisive run.
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It started when McKenzie Fujan made a 3-point shot with nine minutes to play to give the Bluejays a 47-45 lead. It ended with an Alexis Akin-Otiko basket at 4:34 that put the Bluejays ahead 57-45. In between, Fujan made a couple of technical foul free throws, and Janning buried a pair of her arena-tying six 3-point baskets.
“We really moved the ball a lot better in that spell,” said Fujan, who scored 16 points to go along with a game-high six assists. “And we started playing defense. They were getting some shots they shouldn't have been getting.”
Janning led the Bluejays with a career-high 26 points, which also set an arena record for points by a Creighton player. The record of 25 had been shared by Carli Tritz and Kelsey Woodard.
“After last week, we needed this win,” Janning said. “We were down on ourselves and our confidence was low. I think this was a great win for us, especially being down a little bit and then coming back and winning by this much.”
Flanery was pleased with the way his team bounced back from the road losses at Indiana State and Illinois State. He was especially thrilled by the inside play of Alyssa Kamphaus and Akin-Otiko, as well as his team's halfcourt defense.
Kamphaus recorded her first double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Akin-Otiko chipped in four points and three rebounds. Defensively, Creighton held Missouri State (12-12, 4-8) to 30.4 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
Flanery emphasized in practice the need to get better defensively after breakdowns contributed to the road losses.
“We've a better offensive team this year, and sometimes when you get better on offense it gets hard to get through to kids that we're slipping a little on defense,” Flanery said. “Then you go on the road and you don't shoot it well, and you want to say, 'See, I told you we're not good enough on defense.'
“We watched more film on ourselves Tuesday than we had all year. We pointed out what we weren't doing defensively. We knew we had to get better.”
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