Freshman sensation Marissa Janning and the Bluejays served in-state rival No. 25 Nebraska a 66-57 defeat Wednesday night in D.J. Sokol Arena.
The upset victory ends a ten game losing streak against AP top-25 opponents and marks the first time Creighton has defeated a non-conference AP top-25 team since Dec. 7, 1999. Before Wednesday, head coach Jim Flanery had a 1-17 record against ranked opponents.
Flanery and his team clicked offensively Wednesday night and emerged victorious over the Cornhuskers, coached by former Creighton head coach and Hall of Famer Connie Yori. Nebraska was the third ranked opponent Creighton has faced this season in as many home games. Creighton lost to then No. 12 Oklahoma University 69-48 on Nov. 10 and No. 22 University of Kansas 58-48 on Nov. 25.
The third time most certainly was the charm for the Bluejays, who shot 58 percent for the game.
Freshman guard Marissa Janning fueled the Creighton offense with a stellar performance from the bench. Janning followed up a career-best performance at Brigham Young University Nov. 28 by tying her mark with 19 points against the Huskers. She was named MVC Newcomer of the Week following her performance in the 65-62 overtime victory at BYU.
“I think BYU was a big stepping stone not only for the team but for her,” junior guard Carli Tritz said.
Janning demonstrated her playmaking skills with dribble penetration that resulted in layups on consecutive possessions six minutes into the game. In addition, Janning sank consecutive threes with 5:53 and 5:05 remaining in the opening half to snap an 8-0 Nebraska run. Janning’s consecutive threes, plus a three by junior guard Jordan Garrison on the following possession, put the Bluejays ahead by six, and Creighton would not look back, taking a 36-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the first half, Janning scored 10, only missing one shot in nine minutes of play from the bench — a free throw attempt to complete a three-point play.
The Bluejays stayed steady in the second half and cruised to victory. The only Husker threat to Creighton’s lead came on a 7-0 run from the 15:34 to 12:49 marks in the second half capped by a three-pointer from Nebraska senior guard Lindsey Moore. Following a 30-second timeout by Flanery, Garrison drew a foul and made a layup on an aggressive drive. Tritz sank a put back after rebounding Garrison’s missed free throw. Within 15 seconds following the timeout, Creighton had stretched its lead back out to seven points.
“When teams start getting runs on us, especially after [the] BYU [victory], I think now we know we can put a stop to it, and all we have to do is have one or two major plays and we’re back in it,” Janning said.
Following Creighton’s scoring outburst, Nebraska did not come within four points of the lead.
Janning led the Bluejays with 19 points, shooting 7-10 overall and 4-6 from 3-point range.
“I expected good but we got great,” Flanery said of Janning’s performance.
Junior guard/forward McKenzie Fujan scored 13, and Garrison added nine points from the bench. Junior forward Sarah Nelson contributed with a stellar defensive performance against Nebraska junior forward Jordan Hooper, a preseason second-team All-American. Hooper, who scored 22 points against the Bluejays last season and has averaged 17.9 points per game this season, was held scoreless and finished with only four defensive rebounds.
Flanery said Creighton’s defensive success came as a result of executing the game plan that sought to prevent Lindsey Moore from driving into the lane and Hooper from scoring in the post. This allowed Nebraska sophomore Hailie Sample to score 20 points, but that was a concession Flanery was willing to make.
“Sample had a great game,” Flanery said, “but they didn’t get Hooper the number of shots they wanted or Moore the number of shots they wanted. We accomplished what we tried to do.”
The Bluejays play next at the University of Houston. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. Creighton returns home Dec. 16 to take on North Dakota State Unversity. Tipoff at D.J. Sokol Arena against the Bison is set for 2:05 p.m.