LAS VEGAS — Creighton had a chance to tie Clemson in the closing seconds of Friday's 56-52 setback, but coach Jim Flanery said his Bluejays all but lost the game in the opening minutes.
“We just put ourselves in too big of a hole,” Flanery said on his postgame radio show. “We were not a good basketball team tonight.”
The Tigers (7-3) jumped to 15-6 lead and extended the margin to 25-13 as Creighton's Sarah Nelson and Alexis Akin-Otiko each picked up three first-half fouls.
Brianna Rollerson, a 6-foot redshirt freshman from Omaha Central, provided the Bluejays with a lift in the opening half. Rollerson hit three consecutive baskets to cut Creighton's deficit to 27-24 with 1:30 left.
The Tigers extended their lead in the second half, going up 52-43 when Charmaine Tay scored with 2:51 remaining.
Creighton rallied, closing within 53-50 on Jordan Garrison's layup with 2:04 left. After Clemson's Quinyotta Pettaway scored, Creighton's Marissa Janning made two free throws with 1:32 left to make it 55-52.
With 1:05 left, McKenzie Fujan came up with a steal and was fouled, but the senior missed both free throws.
Fujan then missed a running layup on the Bluejays' next possession, but they had another chance to tie after Pettaway missed two free throws.
Nelson missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, and Clemson's Nikki Dixon made a free throw for the final margin.
Creighton (5-6) will play UNLV at 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the tournament's final game.