After two regular season losses against Butler, the third time was the charm for Creighton on Sunday afternoon in Rosemont, Illinois. In the teams' second meeting of the week, the Bluejays beat the Bulldogs 61-52 behind 21 points and seven rebounds from Sarah Nelson.
Both teams hit just eight field goals over the opening 20 minutes. After freshman MC McGrory's put-back, the Jays led 21-20 at the break, despite hitting 8-of-34 shots from the field and 4-of-17 from 3-point range. Nelson scored 11 of her points in the opening half.
Butler briefly took the lead early in the second half before Creighton started making shots. McGrory scored 10 of her career-high 12 points in the second half.
BIG EAST Player of the Year, Marissa Janning came up big down the stretch, helping get CU to the semifinals on Monday afternoon. Creighton outscored Butler 40-32 with Janning and McGrory scoring half of the Bluejays' points.
On the boards, the Jays outrebounded the Bulldogs 39-33 for the second time this week. Nelson and Alexis Akin-Otiko, who had seven rebounds, paced the Jays on the glass. McKenzie Fujan grabbed six boards, while Janning added four and McGrory chipped in three.
Offensively, two other Bluejays joined Nelson and McGrory in double figures. Fujan and Janning added 10 apiece, and Akin-Otiko added eight. Creighton shot 50 percent from the field in the second, which helped them advance to the next round where they faced the two seed, St. John's.
In double overtime thriller, the St. John's Red Storm outlasted the Creighton Bluejays 68-63. The Jays had several chances to close the game out in regulation and overtime but couldn't get it done.
Sarah Nelson led the team with 20 points and nine rebounds. The senior hit a 3-pointer in the first overtime that put CU up one with less than a minute to play before the Red Storm answered. Down three with 5.8 seconds on the clock in the second overtime, McKenzie Fujan, who finished with nine points, was unable to hit a good look at the tying three.
Creighton led most of the first half. Fujan put the team up seven points, its biggest lead of the half, with 3:07 remaining following a layup. Nelson hit a three late in the half, putting the Bluejays up six with 13 seconds left.
St. John's Aaliyah Lewis hit a 40-foot heave as the buzzer sounded that cut the deficit to 25-22. Despite hitting only 3-of-10 from 3-point distance, CU shot 45 percent in the opening half. The Red Storm were held to 39.1 percent and only their only three came just before the horn.
Within the first three minutes of the second half, St. John's erased the Creighton lead and took the lead. The lead flip-flopped the rest of the way. Jordan Garrison tied the game at 30, and there were seven more ties in the half.
With 7:26 remaining, Alexis Akin-Otiko's jumper put the Jays up seven once again, 48-41. Flanery's squad looked in good position to advance to the tournament finals. A three-minute drought for CU got the Johnnies within one before MC McGrory hit a jumper making it 50-47 with 3:32 left before overtime.
On the next possession, SJU caught CU at 50. The BIG EAST Player of the Year, Janning, put her team up three with 48 ticks left by willing a layup in while she was fouled. The Red Storm scored and CU found itslef up one with 12 seconds left and Nelson at the line. She split the pair from the line before Keylantra Langley tied the score with three seconds in regulation. Janning wound up turning it over at the end of regulation, sending the contest to overtime.
Neither team got it going in extra time, as the first basket came from SJU almost four minutes in. Nelson again put her team up by one, hitting a 3-pointer. The end of regulation nearly repeated itself. After SJU scored, Janning hit 1-of-2 from the line, leaving the door open.
Danaejah Grant was fouled with five seconds left, hit both and sent the game to a second overtime.
After a Grant layup and two Nelson free throws, the game witnessed its 13th tie, at 60, with 3:45 remaining. Fujan put the Jays up 61-60 after a trip to the line. Creighton led once more after she made a layup, however, the Red Storm ended on a 6-0 run. After nearly being on the wrong end a couple times.
Janning had 11 points, while McGrory led the bench with seven. Senior Garrison finished with six, and reserve posts Akin-Otiko and Brianna Rollerson had four each, while Alyssa Kamphaus rounded out the scoring with two.
For the game, CU hit 38.9 percent of their shots but was only 6-of-25 from 3-point range, which is usually a staple of the team. Despite hitting 15-of-22 free throws, it wound up being their undoing compared to SJU making just 16-of-31. The Red Storm made them when needed, however.
Next up for the Bluejays is Selection Monday where they'll find up if they'll be in the NCAA or NIT tournament. Stay tuned with the Bluejay Report to see what's next for the team.
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