Brianna Rollerson got Creighton off to a good start in Monday’s exhibition with Fort Hays State.
Marissa Janning then made sure the Bluejays finished strong in posting a 77-47 victory at D.J. Sokol Arena. Janning had 19 of her 21 points after halftime and made 6 of 8 shots from the field after going 0 for 3 in the first half.
It was Rollerson, a redshirt freshman from Omaha Central, who provided the Bluejays with some much-needed zip when the rest of the offense was missing in action. She made 4 of her first 6 shots — the rest of the team was 2 of 11 at that point — in staking Creighton to a 10-point lead. She had 12 points at halftime and 16 in her first game since playing in last season’s exhibition.
“I was like really nervous to begin with,” Rollerson said. “But after we played for the first five minutes, I was good to go.”
Creighton coach Jim Flanery was glad she was. His team’s sluggish movement had the Bluejays playing uphill early in the contest. Creighton scored three points in the first five minutes before Rollerson made back-to-back layups.
With Fort Hays still within 7-4 eight minutes into the game, Rollerson made back-to-back jump shots. She made a jumper and two free throws late in the half to turn a 22-13 lead into a 26-13 bulge.
Janning then took over in the second half, scoring 19 points, grabbing half of her six rebounds and dishing out three assists to go with the four she had in the first 20 minutes.
“Basically, the second half for us was way better because we started moving,” Janning said. “Our communication and our all-around game was just a lot better in the second half.”
Flanery agreed after watching his team put up 51 points in the final 20 minutes.
“Our player movement and ball movement just wasn’t very good in the first half,” he said. “They had something to do with that, but our movement was much, much better in the second half.
“Where would we have been without Bri in that first half? We couldn’t score without her.”
A two-time all-stater, Rollerson led Central to the Class A state championship in 2012. With experienced post players and a guard-oriented lineup last season, Flanery decided to redshirt Rollerson.
“In high school, it was really easy for me,” Rollerson said. “I’ve learned you have to play a lot harder in college. That’s been the hardest thing for me, playing harder for longer periods of time and being more intense.”
Rollerson finished the game 7 of 12 from the field in playing 19 minutes. She grabbed seven rebounds, had two steals and blocked four shots.
“Bri can bring a ton to this team,’’ Janning said. “She can bring offense, she can bring defense. You got a little taste of it tonight.
“Being her roommate, I knew she was really excited and anxious for this game. She’s going to help us a lot on both ends, and I’m really excited to have her back.’’
Creighton also got nine points out of Sammy Jensen, who made three of the team’s eight 3-point field goals, and seven apiece from McKenzie Fujan and Sarah Nelson. Nelson, like Janning a new Big East preseason all-conference pick, led the team with eight rebounds, had seven assists and two steals in 28 minutes.
Division II Fort Hays got 12 points from Katelyn Edwards and 11 apiece from Kate Lehman and Chelsea Mason but clearly had difficulty once Creighton’s offense turned it up a notch in the second half.
“We were just more committed in the second half to move without the ball,’’ said Flanery, whose team opens the season Friday night at Drake. “When you move without the ball, the ball starts moving.
“And when people get to touch it more, you’re more likely to make a shot than when you’re holding it, holding it. That was a big difference in the second half.”
Fort Hays State .......................................... 19 28—47
At Creighton .......................................... 26 51—77
FHS: Lehman 5-12 1-3 11, Bohuslavsky 2-5 0-1 4, Edwards 2-8 8-11 12, Kacperska 1-3 0-2 2, Mason 5-10 0-0 11, Antenen 0-0 1-2 1, Faxon 1-6 0-0 2, Ingalsbe 1-5 2-2 4.
C: Nelson 2-7 2-2 7, Kamphaus 2-3 0-0 4, Fujan 2-9 3-8 7, Janning 6-11 6-6 21, Garrison 2-3 0-0 5, Jensen 3-5 0-0 9, Works 1-2 0-0 2, Akin-Otiko 3-7 0-0 6, Rollerson 7-12 2-3 16.
Rebounds: FHS 35 (Edwards 7), C 44 (Nelson 8). Assists: FHS 12 (Bohuslavsky 4), C 22 (Nelson, Janning 7).