Creighton (17-10, 11-4 Big East) came out firing in their 65-62 win of the rematch with No. 22 St. John's (19-7, 12-3 Big East) Sunday afternoon at D.J. Sokol Arena.
Marissa Janning had a game-high 24 points as the Bluejays won their 18th straight conference home game. The win over the Red Storm qualifies as the Bluejays' best win this season and will certainly help the chances of receiving an at-large bid if needed.
"This was a game I felt we needed to help our postseason chances," said Coach Jim Flanery. "Happy for the team given how we played against them earlier in the season."
Both teams held the lead in the first two-and-a-half minutes before the Jays went on a 14-2 run capped by Sarah Nelson's 3-pointer. St. John's started out focused on defending the perimeter. The Jays countered by attacking the basket and looking to Nelson on the perimeter.
"Getting to the basket when they took away the three early got us good looks," said the senior from Omaha.
CU led by as many as 12 during the first half against the 22nd ranked Red Storm. Unlike when the teams first met in Queens a few weeks ago, Creighton took care of the ball, limiting the conference leader's easy points.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Bluejays continued to pad the lead, going up by 20 points after a Janning three with 12:21 remaining. St. John's refused to go quietly, as they began to chip away at the deficit in the final eight minutes.
The Red Storm turned up the pressure with a full court press that forced the Jays to turn the ball over several times. Things got real interesting in the final minute with the visitors closing within four points. Nelson made two free throws, and Sammy Jensen and McKenzie Fujan each added one, pushing the lead to six before St. John's hit a three at the buzzer. Creighton was held to only eight field goals in the second half but hit 11-of-19 free throws.
"We're thrilled to get a win, wished it would've been a little less stressful given the lead we had," said Flanery. "Credit that team though for fighting back after being down by 20 points. I liked how we took care of the ball for the first 32 minutes, didn't do as well towards the end, but it's a good win for us."
It was a reversal of the 67-48 setback at SJU. The white and blue shot much better, going 52.5 percent for the game. In the first meeting, the Bluejays shot 32.7 percent.
"They played more aggressive than when we last played. Their three scorers were the difference. Credit to their fans who make this a good home court for them," said Joe Tartamella, the head coach of the Red Storm.
Janning led the way but got help from the other members of the "big 3" with Nelson scoring 15 and Fujan 13. Alexis Akin-Otiko had the next highest point total with five, while Jensen had four and Alyssa Kamphaus and Brianna Rollerson each scored two.
On Wednesday night, Creighton returns to action when they welcome Seton Hall to Omaha for a 7:05 tipoff. Fans unable to make it downtown can listen to Brad Burwell and Rob Simms call the action on 1180 KZOT Zone2 and 1620thezone.com.
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