With three starters 6-foot-2 or taller, Nebraska had even more of a height advantage than usual over Creighton on Monday night.
But CU guard Tatum Rembao didn’t see that as a big deal.
“Yeah, our guards may be smaller, but can their guards always run with us?” Rembao said. “It kind of goes both ways.”
It went Creighton’s way in a 78-62 victory at Sokol Arena, the Bluejays’ fifth straight in the series.
The Jays (2-3) jumped to a 9-0 lead. After the Huskers steadied themselves and pulled within six after a quarter, the Jays blitzed them 23-8 in the second quarter behind seven 3-pointers to go ahead 42-21.
“Once they threw a punch our way and hit a couple of back-to-back 3s, I felt like we looked a little bit stunned,” said NU coach Amy Williams, whose team dropped to 3-1.
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Rembao and fellow senior guard Temi Carda controlled the game for the Jays, scoring 18 points apiece. Carda was 3 for 6 and Rembao 2 of 5 from deep as the Jays outscored the Huskers 39-12 from the 3-point line.
Though Creighton started three 5-9 guards, the Jays outrebounded the Huskers 40-36. The hosts finished the first half with an 8-1 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“Anytime you’re stretching somebody out to the 3-point line, offensive rebounding is a lot about quickness,” CU coach Jim Flanery said. “It’s not necessarily about size.”
The Huskers, whose backcourt is depleted by injuries, started three post players for the second straight game. But that meant one of them had to try to guard 5-9 junior Rachael Saunders. She scored five points in the first 1:44 to spark the 9-0 run and finished the half with 11 of her 13.
“If I’m guarding Creighton, I’m probably putting my better defenders on Tatum and Temi,” Flanery said. “But Rachael’s done a really good job of helping us get off to great starts.”
The Jays improved to 2-0 since Rembao returned to the lineup after going through COVID-19 protocol. Flanery said her return has allowed Carda and Saunders to settle into their normal roles and has quickened the Jays’ tempo.
“I thought we played at a good pace offensively, and we did a good job of speeding them up,” he said. “I thought that kind of negated their size.”
Guard Sam Haiby led the Huskers with 18 points. Center Kate Cain added 15.
But there was another blow to their backcourt when freshman Ruby Porter sprained an ankle in the second quarter. By the second half, NU had two guards on crutches on the bench: Porter and sophomore Trinity Brady, a starter in the first two games.
“We knew this year would be filled with adversity,” Williams said. “I thought it would probably come more in the form of COVID.”
Next up for the Huskers is a game Sunday at No. 15 Indiana.
Creighton visits No. 3 Connecticut at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Flanery has vivid memories of a 96-60 loss to the Huskies in November 2014, when future WNBA star Breanna Stewart went 10 for 10 from the floor for UConn.
“I think this team’s a little more human because they’re a little younger,” Flanery said. “I just feel like maybe we’ve caught up a little bit, too, hopefully.”