On Jan. 23, the Creighton women’s basketball team entered the McGrath-Phillips Arena with only two conference wins and five losses, including a stretch of four straight defeats.
The host DePaul Blue Demons entered the game with a 5-2 Big East record and an 89.6 points per game average.
The Blue Demons proved why they are the top-scoring team in the Big East, making 12 3-pointers in a 96-71 trouncing of the Bluejays.
Since Creighton’s 25-point loss in Chicago, the Jays have reeled off six straight victories, each by more than two possessions.
The Bluejays (15-10, 8-6 Big East) host the Blue Demons Friday night with a different mindset than four weeks ago
Some changes in personnel and strategy have contributed to Creighton’s new identity. The Jays switched junior guard Marissa Janning into the point guard role and have applied new defenses to keep the opposition off-balance.
“We’re more focused and determined during practice,” Janning said. “During the first half of the season we were trying to figure ourselves out and trying to find
Sophomore guard Lauren Works has also seen a different tone during practice.
“There’s a lot more energy now that we’re winning,” Works said.
In its most recent game, Creighton used hot shooting and strong defense to take care of the last-place Providence Friars.
The Bluejays tied a season-high 3-point total with 14, had 22 assists and forced 22 turnovers in their 84-57 victory over Providence (5-20, 2-12 Big East) at the 2015 Pink Out game on Sunday.
Works led Creighton’s 14 of 26 3-point performance with a career-high five 3s (5 of 6) for a career-high 15 points.
Janning had a game-high 25 points, including five 3s of her own, and freshman guard Sydney Lamberty added 16 points for Creighton, including two 3s.
Lamberty earned the Big East freshman of the week honors for the sixth time this season on Monday.
Creighton also finished with 22 assists on 29 made baskets. Freshman guard Jade Owens led the Jays with a career-high six assists. Works and Janning each tallied four.
Many of the 3-point field goals and assists came as a result of the Jays’ ability to break the press.
“When we come out of a full-court press, we usually have numbers,” Janning said. “[The opponent] will try to drop back and take middle or maybe a post on the block; so it’s usually the corner person that’s always open or maybe a kick-back if we drive.”
The Jays need a similar game plan Friday because DePaul also likes to press and keep teams out of their offensive rhythm.
The Blue Demons’ up-tempo and pressing style of play translates into their Big East, leading 87.4 points per game and plus-16.9 scoring margin.
DePaul (20-7, 12-3 Big East) also holds a league-best plus-11.9 turnover margin.
“We’ll use guys this week quite a bit because we can’t simulate [DePaul’s] press with our personnel,” Flanery said. “We press some, but we’re not anywhere near as committed to being disruptive as they are. Our preparation will be important.”
In the first meeting, the Jays shot a dismal 4 of 19 from 3-point territory.
“Part of it’s about us making enough shots, too,” Flanery said. “It’s not just about taking care of the ball. We had a lot of open 3s, but we just didn’t make them.”
Senior guard Brittney Hrynko leads five Blue Demons who average more than 10 points per game.
Hrynko led DePaul with 27 points against the Bluejays on Jan. 23.
Tip-off for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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