Consistent defensive pressure and an early second half run led the Creighton women’s basketball team to a 54-40 win over the University of Northern Iowa Panthers Friday evening.
The Jays improved to 14-4 overall and 6-1 in Missouri Valley Conference play with the win.
The Bluejays’ defense held the Panthers to 24.5 percent shooting and limited the Panthers leading scorer, senior guard Jacqui Kalin (18.4 points per game), to a season low nine points. The Panthers were handcuffed all game with tough full-court pressure from the Jays.
“Our plan was to wear them down with full-court defense,” head coach Jim Flanery said. “And it’s harder to make an open three when you had to work harder to get the ball up the floor. We gave up more open threes then we wanted to, but they were fatigued.”
“(UNI) was going to continue to struggling shooting the ball if we just keep committing to pressing. I thought we really bought into that,” Flanery said. “We’re not going to be able to press every team like this, but we felt like that was our best opportunity today because they like structure, and pressing takes a team out of their structure.”
UNI did not lead at any point during Friday’s conference match-up.
Offensively, the Jays were led by freshman guard Marissa Janning with 12 points and junior forward Sarah Nelson with 11.
All of Janning’s points came in the opening 20 minutes, but her defensive pressure all 26 minutes while on the court was an added bonus to her already impressive first half shooting performance.
She scored 10 of the Jays’ first 15 points.
Janning also had the tough task of guarding Kalin during her 26 minutes on the court.
“I’ve said all along,” Flanery said, “That’s what I like about her. She’s good defensively too. She’s not just offense.”
The freshman Janning said that she wasn’t intimidated by guarding the veteran ball-handler.
“(Flanery) told me I was going to guard her and I really wanted to,” Janning said. “I don’t really know her, but from what I hear she is a really great leader, it’s fun to watch her and it’s really fun to play against her.”
UNI pulled within one point four times in the first half, but the Jays found an answer each time the Panthers were clawing at the lead.
After giving up four quick points in the early stage of the second half, the Jays went on a 15-5 run to take a 12-point lead with 11:31 to play.
“(Early in the second half) I thought we did a better job to put pressure on the basket,” Flanery said, “And that really opened up the three.”
The Jays made 16 field goals during Friday’s game, nine of which were from beyond the arc.
Following the under 12 minute media timeout the Panthers pulled the game back to single digits only once at 43-34.
5-foot-6 senior guard Ally Jensen led the Jays with 10 rebounds, as the Jays out-rebounded the Panthers 45-36.
The Jays have a quick turnaround as the white and the blue hosts the Bradley University Braves on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. at D.J. Sokol Arena.