Creighton's chances of staying in the race for the Big East women's basketball championship could depend on its ability to keep the pace geared up.
Creighton enters Wednesday night's game against Georgetown in third place, two games behind first-place St. John's and a game behind second-place DePaul. The Bluejays (13-9) will play five of their final eight games at D.J. Sokol Arena, where they have won their last 14 games against conference opponents.
“We love playing at home,” forward Sarah Nelson said. “With five of our last eight games here, it's important that we finish it off strong. We know that it's still possible for us to get back up there and win this league.”
In posting a 7-3 record in league play, Creighton has shown more offensive punch than in nonconference play. The Bluejays rank third in the Big East at 70.5 points per game.
Creighton averaged 59.1 points in its 12 non-league games. The dramatic increase is due in part to the Bluejays' ability to adapt to an unexpected style of play, coach Jim Flanery said.
Coming into Creighton's first season in the Big East, Flanery was concerned about how his team would hold up in a league with players bigger and stronger than the ones the Bluejays were used to facing in the Missouri Valley.
“I've found this is a more guard-dominant league,” Flanery said. “The teams that are leading have really good guards. They are teams that play smaller and try to spread you out either with the 3-point shot or the dribble.
“I've been kind of surprised at the lack of size and physicality. It's an up-and-down league, and our points per game have gone up fairly dramatically in the league because teams want to run.”
In Georgetown, the Bluejays will face an exception to the smaller-is-better thinking. The Hoyas have one of the league's top centers in 6-foot-5 freshman Natalie Butler, who averages 14.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.
Georgetown also starts 6-2 freshman Faith Woodard and lists 6-0 senior Andrea White as a starter, although she missed the previous game because of injury.
That size could pose problems for Creighton, which has just one player taller than 6-0.
White is averaging 17.9 points in league games and leads the team with a 15.7 average.
Although the Hoyas (7-15) are tied for last place with Providence with 1-9 league records, they have demonstrated the ability to play well against the conference's first-division teams. Georgetown dropped a three-point decision to St. John's as well as two-point decisions to Creighton and fifth-place Marquette.
The Bluejays, who play DePaul on Sunday, know they can't afford a slip-up against the Hoyas.
“The schedule sets up well for us, and we just need to get a little more consistent,” Flanery said. “We're close and we're right there, but we know we have to take care of business against Georgetown.”