Creighton kept pace in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball race Sunday by refusing to settle for the shots Drake was giving it.
The Bluejays became more aggressive in getting to the basket in the second half in rallying for a 67-66 victory in front of 1,126 at D.J. Sokol Arena.
No Creighton player embraced the second-half change in offense more than Marissa Janning. The freshman took four of her five shots from outside the arc in scoring six first-half points. She took one 3-pointer in the second half in driving her way to an arena-record 29 points.
“We played the way they wanted us to play in the first half,” Janning said. “We came out of the locker room in the second half knowing we needed to change things.
“I knew I had to attack more because I don’t want to just settle for 3s. That’s how teams are going to start playing me, and I want to show them that they have to respect me doing both. I knew we needed to be more aggressive.”
The one-point victory against a team Creighton had mauled by 27 points a month ago improved the Bluejays to 21-6 and 13-3 in the Valley. Wichita State won at Indiana State to improve to 14-3 and maintain its half-game lead over Creighton.
The Shockers close the regular season Saturday at Missouri State. Creighton has home games remaining against Evansville and Southern Illinois.
Those games would have had a little less meaning had the Bluejays slipped up against the Bulldogs. And for 20 minutes Sunday, it appeared that might be in order as Drake took a 37-30 lead at the break.
Ten of Creighton’s 21 first-half shots had come from 3-point range.
“Before the game, I had written on the board that one of the keys was don’t settle,” coach Jim Flanery said. “And I felt like we settled in that first half. We settled for the shots they wanted us to take.
“We became much more structured in the second half. We decided we wanted to go more with Marissa off the ball screen, and she made mostly good reads the rest of the way.”
Janning made 9 of 11 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes and also got to the foul line six times. Her last two field goals followed a basket by Sarah Nelson that gave Creighton a 61-60 lead with 3:12 to play.
Janning drove for a layup on Creighton’s next possession and made a jumper for a 65-60 lead with 1:06 to play. Her two free throws with 35 seconds to play put Creighton ahead 67-62, and the Bluejays survived a last-second surge by the Bulldogs to finish off the win.
Tightening its defense also figured into Creighton’s second-half rally. Drake shot 53.8 percent in the first half but the Bluejays limited them to 34.5 percent in the final 20 minutes. They also forced six turnovers that led to an 8-1 advantage in points off turnovers.
McKenzie Fujan added 11 points and had six assists for Creighton before fouling out. Kyndal Clark led Drake (9-18, 4-12) with 18 points.
The game was the Bluejays’ first in eight days but opened a stretch drive that will see them play three times in a seven-day span.
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