Moments before Sunday’s contest, coach Jim Flanery inserted senior guard Taylor Johnson into the starting lineup for the first time in her career at Creighton.
The Platte City, Missouri native answered the call, scoring the first five points of the game and tallying three rebounds before exiting to a standing ovation by the announced crowd of 1,007 at D.J. Sokol Arena Sunday afternoon.
“I’m glad I did it,” Flanery said. “It worked out perfectly because she kind of jump-started us both from a production standpoint and an emotional standpoint.”
The senior finished with seven points in seven minutes of action as the Creighton women’s basketball team cruised to an 82-60 win over Marquette on an emotion-filled Senior Day.
Johnson had not appeared in a game since suffering a season-ending knee injury against Butler on Jan. 4.
This season marks the third year she has been sidelined with a knee injury.
After the Jays missed their first three shots, Johnson sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to score for the first time since the 13:09 mark in the first half against Kansas on Dec. 22.
“I’m not going to lie, I started crying,” fellow senior guard Sammy Jensen said. “It’s just really cool to see what she’s been through and to see the first shot she takes goes in; that’s pretty awesome for her and just for everybody to see.”
Jensen was dressed in street clothes for her final game inside D.J. Sokol Arena. Her final game in a Bluejay uniform was Jan. 2 at Xavier after suffering a leg injury in December and further aggravating it during practice.
On Creighton’s next possession, Johnson missed a 3-point attempt from the right baseline but tracked down the ball for her own rebound and followed up with a five-foot jumper from inside the lane.
“If I could affect the game at all then I wanted to do it,” Johnson said. “It just felt really good to just be back out there one more time before it all ends.”
Johnson’s contributions helped Creighton hold the lead the entire 40 minutes during Sunday’s game.
“It really hyped us up,” sophomore forward Brianna Rollerson said. “After she hit that we were like ‘it’s go time.’”
Senior forward Alexis Akin-Otiko finished tied for the game-high in points with 17 to lead nine different players that scored for the Jays.
During a 15-5 run in the first half, five different Bluejays made a 3-point field goal.
Junior guard Marissa Janning also finished with 17 points and a team-high six assists.
As a team, Creighton finished with 23 assists and only seven turnovers. In the first half, the Jays had 15 helpers to only one miscue.
The Jays also finished Sunday with a season-high 55 rebounds, including 19 of the offensive variety.
Rollerson filled the stats sheet with a career-high 15 rebounds. Flanery also noted that Rollerson played well defensively.
“Bri did a really good job of playing the post one-on-one and I thought she did good job of helping on the dribble,” Flanery said. “I normally don’t compliment Bri that highly on the defensive end, but I thought she was very influential in what they shot inside the [3-point line].”
The Bluejays led 47-30 at the half.
Cristina Bigica paced Marquette with 12 points.
Unlike like the DePaul defense on Friday, the Golden Eagles’ full-court pressure was less disruptive but did come away with five second-half steals and scored eight points off turnovers.
Johnson closed out the Jays' scoring with a put-back layup with a minute to play.
”I was just having fun out there,” Johnson said. “That’s why I started playing basketball and that’s how I’m going to finish it.”
On a day in which Creighton honored its three seniors, Flanery reflected on the impact the trio has had on the program.
“Their journeys were all different to get here, and they’ve all been different over the three and a half years that they’ve been here, but they’ve modeled what we want a Creighton women’s basketball player to be,” Flanery said.
The three seniors and the rest of the team travel to Washington, D.C. to face Georgetown on Friday before traveling to Pennsylvania to take on the Villanova Wildcats on Sunday afternoon.