Creighton Bluejays (17-11, 11-6 MVC) at Drake Bulldogs (14-14, 8-9 MVC) Game #29 • Saturday, March 3 • 2:05 p.m. Knapp Center (7,152) • Des Moines, Iowa Twitter: @GoCreighton, @CreightonWBB Series History: DU leads 36-21; DU leads 20-8 in Des Moines
• Creighton is on a season-long five game winning streak. A win against Drake would give the Bluejays their longest winning streak to end the regular-season since joining the MVC.
• Creighton is averaging 70.6 points per game, shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three-point range, with an average of 17.2 assists per game during its five game winning streak.
• Carli Tritz (15.2) and Sarah Nelson (15.0) are both averaging at least 15 points during CU’s five game winning streak.
• Creighton shot a season-high 59.6 percent at UNI last Friday night, its highest shooting percentage in a road game since Feb. 8, 1996.
• The Bluejays have already assured themselves a better record in the second half of the MVC season than the first half – the first time since 2002-03 they’ve accomplished that feat.
• Creighton is the top defensive team in the MVC, allowing just 58.1 points per game.
• Creighton’s bench outscored UNI’s reserves 34-6 last Friday and topped BU’s bench 18-4 last Sunday. CU reserves are averaging 21.2 points per game over the last five games.
• A win against Drake would give the Bluejays at least 12 MVC wins for the eighth time in 10 seasons under head coach Jim Flanery.
• Jim Flanery is tied with former Drake head coach Lisa Bluder for fifth in league history with 116 career victories in conference play. His next MVC win will tie him with Tony DiCecco (UNI) for fourth place.
• Ally Jensen went 5-for-5 from three-point range at Bradley last Sunday and has moved into 11th place in school history with 136 career threes – one shy of Krissie Spanheimer for 10th place.
Scouting the Bluejays
Creighton played the toughest non-conference schedule in the league, with its strength of schedule ranked 18th before the start of Valley play ... Nine of CU’s 12 roster spots are filled by underclassmen ... The Bluejays are on a season-best 5-game winning streak in which they are averaging nine more points per game than their season average ... CU leads the MVC in defense, allowing 58.1 ppg ... Despite ranking seventh in the MVC in scoring (61.6), CU is second with 13.6 assists per game ... Sophomore Carli Tritz (14.2 ppg) is averaging a team-leading 15.0 points in MVC play and leads the team with 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game ... Tritz is averaging 15.2 points, 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game during CU’s winning streak and is CU’s active career leader in points, steals, assists, free throws and free-throw attempts ... Sophomore Sarah Nelson (13.4 ppg), a two-time MVC Player of the Week this year, leads the team with 10 double-doubles, 7.9 rebounds per game and 32 blocked shots this season and ranks in the MVC top-15 in field goal percentage, blocks, rebounds, scoring and free throw percentage ... Junior Ally Jensen (8.4 ppg) leads the team with 57 three-pointers this year and ranks 11th in school history with 136 career threes.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Drake is 1-4 in its last five home games and is 8-5 at home this season ... The Bulldogs lead the MVC in rebounding margin (+5.8) ... DU is led by MVC Player of the Year favorite Rachael Hackbarth who leads the league in scoring (19.7), rebounding (11.5) and field goal percentage (.543) – something which has been accomplished just once before in league history ... She also leads DU in steals, blocks and assists ... Freshman Kyndal Clark (10.0 ppg) leads DU with 41 three-pointers and a 38.3 3FG percentage ... Brittnye McSparron (8.8 ppg), who started 22 of 25 games this season, is no longer on the team.
• Jim Flanery (Creighton, 1987) is in his 10th season as head coach at his alma mater, where he has led his team to seven WNIT postseason appearances and five 20-win seasons. He owns a career record of 187-127 (.596). The winningest MVC coach in school history, his 116 MVC wins rank fifth in league history. The second-winningest coach in school history, he led the Bluejays to the 2004 WNIT Championship. Prior to serving as CU’s head coach, Flanery served as CU’s top assistant for a decade. Flan is 11-12 all-time against Drake.
• Amy Stephens (Nebraska, 1991) is in her ninth season at Drake and her 17th as a collegiate head coach. Stephens is 147-128 at Drake and 344-171 overall. She led Drake to a share of the MVC regular-season title in 2007-08 and the MVC Tournament title in 2006-07. The Nebraska native was previously head coach at Division II Nebraska-Kearney.
Creighton-Drake Series History
Drake owns the all-time series lead with Creighton 36-21 – the most played opponent in CU history. The Jays are 8-20 all-time against the Bulldogs in Des Moines. Creighton had its longest winning streak in the series snapped at five last year in the regular-season finale at Drake and lost the MVC opener to DU in Omaha in December. CU has won six of the last nine meetings with DU, including a 77-57 win in Des Moines on Feb. 26, 2010.
Last Time vs. Drake
Creighton held Rachael Hackbarth to a season-low eight points, but the Bluejays scored a season-low 44 points and shot a season-worst 15.8 percent from three-point range in a 47-44 loss to Drake on New Year’s Eve. CU was outrebounded 40-28 in the loss. Sarah Nelson and Carli Tritz combined for 32 of CU’s 44 points and 14-of-27 (.519) shooting, the rest of the Jays combined for 12 points and 3-of-24 (.125) shooting. Only four Jays had a field goal and the bench was 0-for-11 from the floor in defeat.
Individuals against Drake
Carli Tritz has had at least 14 points and five steals in each of her first three career games against Drake and is averaging 14.7 points, 5.3 steals, 3.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game against the Bulldogs. Sarah Nelson scored 12 points total against DU in two games as a freshman, before lead all players with 18 points in last month’s meeting with Drake. She now averages 10.0 points and 3.7 rebounds against the Bulldogs in her career. Ally Jensen scored a career-high 18 points against Drake in the MVC Tournament as a freshman, draining 6-of-12 three-pointers against the Bulldogs. In three games since that contest, she has scored a total of 11 points and made 3-of-13 threes.
• With a 6-2 mark in the second half of MVC play, the Bluejays have already assured themselves of a better second-half record than the 5-4 mark they had through the first half of conference play. The Bluejays have not had a better record in their final nine MVC games than their first nine since 2002-03.
• A win on Saturday would make Creighton 7-2 in its final nine Valley games, its best mark since 2008-09 and tying the best second-half record under Jim Flanery.
• A win against Drake would give the Bluejays 12 MVC wins for the eighth time in Flan’s 10 seasons and tie Flan with his former co-worker Tony DiCecco for fourth in MVC history with 116 career Valley wins. (Flanery and DiCecco were both assistant coaches at CU under Connie Yori in the 1990s).
• A win on Saturday would give Creighton six straight wins to end the regular-season. The Bluejays have never gone into the MVC Tournament on more than a three-game winning streak. CU has not ended the regular-season with six or more straight wins since the 1991-92 team won 12 straight before heading into the WAC Tournament.
• A win on Saturday would give Creighton its ninth road win of the year, its most since winning 11 in the 2003-04 campaign.
Flan Makes Moves
Head coach Jim Flanery is one of seven coaches in league history with 100 wins in conference play. With Creighton’s win at Bradley last week, Flan tied former Drake leader Lisa Bluder for fifth in league history with 116 conference wins. His next win will pull him even with UNI’s Tony DiCecco.
Most MVC Coaching Wins (league games)
Name, School Wins Years
Cheryl Burnett, MSU 201 1988-02
Cindy Scott, SIU 199 1983-98
Jill Hutchison, ILS 170 1983-99
Tony DiCecco, UNI 117 1996-07
Jim Flanery, CU 116 2002-pr.
Lisa Bluder, DU 116 1991-00
Connie Yori, CU 109 1992-02
Jensen Moving Up
Junior Ally Jensen needs one more three-pointer to move into the Creighton career top-10 for career treys. Last week she moved past Kristi Woodard (132), Chevelle Herring (134) and Angela Timmons (134) on the list. Earlier this season she became the 16th player in school history to reach 100 career three-pointers.
McKenzie Fujan scored a career-high 12 points and tied her career-high with six assists, while not committing a turnover in CU’s win at UNI (Feb. 24). Mac followed with another double-digit scoring performance with 10 points at Bradley (Feb. 26). The sophomore averaged 11.0 points and 4.5 assists, shooting 10-of-20 (.500) from the field and committing only one turnover in CU’s two wins last weekend.
Sarah Nelson leads the team and ranks third in the MVC with 10 double-doubles this season. Her 10 double-dimes are the most by a Bluejay since Creighton Hall of Famer Pam Gradoville logged 14 double-doubles during the 1987-88 season.
Creighton’s numbers during its five game winning streak are impressive, as CU’s shooting percentages and scoring are way up during the span. Only one player is shooting below 40 percent from the field during the streak. Carli Tritz (15.2) and Sarah Nelson (15.0) are combining to average more than 30 points per game during the streak, while Tritz has 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game in that span – far above her season averages. See the chart below for a comparison of the last five games compared to before the streak started:
Great Guard Play
In Creighton's two road wins last week, the Bluejays' three starting guards combined for 66 points, 23 assists, 13 steals and just seven turnovers. The trio of McKenzie Fujan, Carli Tritz and Ally Jensen shot 54.2 percent (26-of-48) from the field in the wins. Fujan scored a career-high 12 points and tied her career-high with six assists against zero turnovers at UNI. Tritz had 15 points, a career-best three blocks and tied her career-highs with eight assists and six steals at Bradley. Jensen drained all five of her three-point attempts at Bradley.
Jensen is Perfect
Junior Ally Jensen equalled the most accurate three-point shooting game at Creighton since the 1991-92 season when she made all five of her three-point attempts at Bradley (Feb. 26). She tied Ally Thrall (Dec. 18, 2007 vs. Kansas State) and Kathy Halligan (vs. BYU, Feb. 20, 1992), who also went 5-for-5 from long range.
Creighton’s reserves were key in its wins at UNI and Bradley last weekend. Against UNI, the Bluejay bench scored a season-high 34 points, making 6-of-9 three-pointers, including 3-of-4 from freshman Taylor Johnson for a team-best 13 points. The bench then poured in 18 points at BU to finish the weekend with a 52-10 advantage in bench points in the pair of wins.
Tritz Tis Terrific
Sophomore Carli Tritz leads the team in scoring, assists and steals this year – but her numbers lately have been impressive even by her standards. Against Indiana State on Feb. 19 she led the team with 18 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists, while she did not commit a turnover in the game – her first zero turnover game of the season. At Bradley on Feb. 26, she led the team with 15 points and five rebounds, while she also topped the team and tied her career-highs with eight assists and six steals in the win.
Hawkeye State Natives
Creighton starts two Iowa natives and has four Iowans on the roster. Sophomore Carli Tritz (Sioux City) picked up her first collegiate win in her home state last weekend at UNI. Junior Ally Jensen (Ames) is a starter and her younger sister freshman Sammy Jensen is a reserve, while Des Moines native Riley Norman has yet to play a game in college due to injuries. Head coach Jim Flanery (Guthrie Center) is also from the Hawkeye State.
Creighton had all 11 players scored in a game just once through its first 25 games of the season – doing so in a blowout loss to No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 4. The Jays then put all 11 players in the scoring column in two straight games against Indiana State (Feb. 19) and at UNI (Feb. 24). In fact, the UNI game was the first time this season all 11 Bluejays made a field goal, as each player played at least nine minutes and scored at least three points.
Carli Tritz scored all of her team-leading 16 points in the second half of Creighton’s win over Illinois State (Feb. 17). It’s nothing new for Tritz, who scored 17 of her 19 points against Indiana State on Jan. 20 and did more of the same against Bradley last month. Tritz scored 19 of her career-high 25 points in the second half against Bradley on Jan. 29. At Illinois State (Jan. 22), Tritz made 8-of-8 field goals in the final 8:30 to scored 16 of her team-leading 18 points in the second half. On the season Tritz is averaging 8.7 points per game in the second half, compared to just 5.6 points in the first half. Tritz is shooting 50.0 percent from the field after halftime and just 39.9 percent in the first half.
Creighton shot a season-high 53.8 percent from three-point range against Illinois State (Feb. 17), making 7-of-13 shots in the win. The Bluejays also blocked a season-high nine shots, with Sarah Nelson blocking a career-high four in the game. The Jays followed two games later with their best shooting game in over a year, making 59.6 percent of their shots from the field at UNI for their best shooting game on the road since Feb. 8, 1996 when they shot 63.2 percent in Peoria.
Not Half Bad
Creighton has improved to 29-1 all-time under head coach Jim Flanery when shooting at least 50 percent from the field this season as the Bluejays shot a season-high 59.6 percent at UNI (Feb. 24) and also made 52.8 percent of their shots at SIU (Feb. 11).
Creighton’s leading scorers, Carli Tritz (14.2) and Sarah Nelson (13.1) have been remarkable consistent this season, averaging a combined 27.3 points per game – or 43.5 percent of Creighton’s offense. Tritz and Nelson have both scored in double figures 21 times this season. They are looking to become the first pair of Bluejays to average at least 13 points in a season since Angie Janis (18.5) and Kristi Woodard (13.5) in 2005-06.
Better Balance in Wins
• Carli Tritz and Sarah Nelson average 40.8 percent of CU’s points in wins, but score 51.4 percent of the team’s points in losses.
• Creighton’s third-leading scorer, Ally Jensen, averages 10.6 points per game in wins, but drops to just 5.3 in losses.
• In wins, four Bluejays are averaging at least four rebounds per game, helping the Jays to a plus-4.7 rebounding advantage.
• In losses, only Nelson (7.2) averages better than 3.7 rebounds per game, as CU has a minus-4.5 rebounding margin in defeats.
Sarah Nelson scored career-highs in back-to-back games on Feb. 9 and 11, scoring 23 at Evansville before topping that with 25 points at Southern Illinois. It's the second time this season the sophomore has scored 20 points in consecutive games, becoming the first Bluejay since Angie Janis to score 20 in back-to-back games more than once in a season. She's the first Bluejay since Megan Neuvirth in 2009-10 to score 20 in consecutive games and the first Jay since Chevelle Herring in 2008-09 to score more than 23 in consecutive games. Her 25 points equal Carli Tritz for team-high honors on the season and the most points scored by a Bluejay over the previous three seasons.
Nelson Scores More Than Half
Sarah Nelson scored more than half of Creighton’s points in a 48-45 loss at Evansville (Feb. 9), pouring in a career-high 23 points. She also added four assists to have a hand in 13 of CU’s 18 field goals in the loss. The last Bluejay to score more than half of her team’s points in a game was Sam Schuett. Schuett scored 22 of CU’s 42 points in a 42-41 win over Evansville on Feb. 13, 2010.
Crime is on the Rise
Sophomore Carli Tritz tied her season and career-high with six steals at Southern Illinois (Feb. 11) and at Bradley (Feb. 26). She leads the team with 52 steals on the season, with 20 of those swipes happening during Creighton’s five-game winning streak.
More from Moore
Senior DaNae Moore is enjoying a career year in her final season at Creighton. Moore has career-highs in points, field goals, field goal attempts, field goal percentage, rebounds assists and steals. She tied her career-high with 11 points against UNI (Jan. 27), making 5-of-6 shots. She one-upped herself with a new career-high of 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a season-high nine rebounds in Creighton’s win over Bradley (Jan. 29).
Cleaning the Glass
Creighton crushed Wichita State on the glass on Feb. 2, outrebounding the Shockers by 25 (47-22). The plus-25 margin was the largest rebounding margin recorded by a Jim Flanery coached team and was Creighton’s largest rebounding margin since outrebounding Indiana State by 26 on Feb. 11, 2001. The Bluejays were outrebounded by a combined 35 through their first three MVC games (-11.7 per game), all losses. Since then, the Bluejays have gone 11-3 and are plus 54 (+3.9 per game) on the glass.
Carli’s Career-High 25 Points
Sophomore Carli Tritz poured in a career-high 25 points against Bradley (Jan. 29), making 10-of-16 field goals and 5-of-7 free-throws in the win. Her 25 points – which topped her former mark of 23 against Kansas (Nov. 16) – equal the most scored by a Bluejay in a game over the previous three seasons, as Kelsey Woodard had a season-high 25 points in 2010-11 and Megan Neuvirth scored 25 points for a team-high in 2009-10. (Sarah Nelson has since scored 25 points in a game this season)
On Top of the Valley
Creighton has won more MVC games over the past 10 seasons than any other league foe. Since Jim Flanery took over in 2002-03, the Bluejays have posted 116 Valley wins. With 105 victories between 2002 and 2011, the Bluejays were the only Valley team to eclipse 100 conference wins in that nine-year span.
MVC Records Since 2002-03
(through Feb. 29)
School W-L Pct.
Creighton 116-63 .648
Northern Iowa 108-70 .607
Illinois State 108-70 .607
Missouri State 104-74 .584
Indiana State 104-74 .584
Drake 97-82 .542
Bradley 77-101 .433
Evansville 66-112 .371
Wichita State 65-113 .365
Southern Illinois 46-132 .258
Creighton overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to win 64-62 at Indiana State (Jan. 20), as Carli Tritz hit the game-winning basket with 2.0 seconds on the clock. It marked Creighton’s first win when trailing at halftime this year and its largest come-from-behind road win since 2008. The Bluejays have overcome three double-digit deficits for wins this year (Bowling Green, Indiana State, Wichita State). The Jays have trailed in 15 of their 17 wins this season, and been behind by at least eight points in six of their 17 wins.
More Information on Comebacks
Creighton’s win at Indiana State was its 19th victory under Jim Flanery when it trailed by at least 10 points in the game. It was CU’s largest comeback in two years, since overcoming an 18-point deficit against Northern Iowa on Jan. 24, 2010. Below are the top comebacks for CU since 2002-03.
Opponent, Deficit Final Date
vs. Indiana State, -19 69-65 3-9-07*
Northern Iowa, -18 62-58 1-24-10
Missouri State, -13 79-73 (ot) 1-6-08
at Evansville, -13 76-64 1-21-07
at Indiana State, -12 64-62 1-20-12
at South Dakota St., -12 76-69 3-20-08^
Illinois State, -12 80-77 (ot) 2-29-08
at Indiana State, -12 68-60 1-31-08
Illinois State, -12 77-72 1-10-04
* - MVC Tournament; ^ - WNIT
Home games in bold
Sophomore Carli Tritz scored in double figures in 11 straight games (Dec. 8 - Jan. 22), the longest streak of her career and longest by a Bluejay since Sam Schuett had 15 straight games of at least 10 points during the 2009-10 season. Tritz is one of five players during the Jim Flanery era to put together 10 straight games of double-digit scoring, joining Laura Spanheimer, Angie Janis, Kristi Woodard and Schuett. She's the first sophomore to record such a streak under Flanery and the first to do so since MVC Player of the Year Christy Neneman did so in 2001-02.
10-Game Streaks of 10+ Points
Under Jim Flanery (since 2002-03)
Player, Yr. Streak Season
Angie Janis, Jr. 20 2004-05
Sam Schuett, Jr. 15 2009-10
Kristi Woodard, Jr. 15 2004-05
Angie Janis, Sr. 13 2005-06
Carli Tritz, So. 11 2011-12
Laura Spanheimer, Sr. 10 2004-05
Nelson in Elite Company
Sophomore Sarah Nelson leads the team with 10 double-doubles this season. Against SIU on Jan. 14, she posted 11 rebounds, 10 points and a career-high five assists. With those five helpers, she joined Megan Neuvirth, Laura Spanheimer and Christy Neneman as the only Bluejays since 2002-03 to log at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.
10+ Points, 10+ Rebounds, 5+ Assists
Under Jim Flanery (since 2002-03)
Player P-R-A Date, Opp.
C. Neneman 12-12-5 11-24-02, UMKC
L. Spanheimer 12-10-11 1-8-04, Ind. St.
L. Spanheimer 12-10-5 1-10-04, Ill. St.
L. Spanheimer 20-10-7 11-19-04, NW
L. Spanheimer 14-10-6 2-23-05, Bradley
M. Neuvirth 17-16-6 11-25-08, SLU
M. Neuvirth 18-14-5 12-21-08, Colo. St.
M. Neuvirth 10-12-6 1-16-10, SIU
S. Nelson 10-11-5 1-14-12, SIU
Home is Where the Wins Are
Creighton is 22-5 (.815) all-time in MVC games played at D.J. Sokol Arena and the Bluejays are 33-9 (.786) overall in the third season at their new home. The Bluejays are 105-34 (.755) at home under Jim Flanery, including 71-19 (.789) in MVC play at home under Flanery.
Creighton is 33-9 all-time their new home. In those 42 games, the Jays have allowed less than 60 points points 30 times and under 50 points 11 times. Bluejay opponents are averaging just 55.6 points per game in the 42 games played inside D.J. Sokol Arena.
Garrison Picks Spots, Hits Shots
Sophomore Jordan Garrison scored a career-high 11 points against Evansville (Jan. 12), making 4-of-5 shots from the field. She tied her career-high by making three three-pointers, finishing 3-for-4 from long range.
Bluejays Win Big
Creighton cruised to a 65-33 win over Evansville on Jan. 12. Here are some numbers to highlight the win.
• The 33 points were the fewest scored by a Bluejay opponent since Nebraska Wesleyan scored 31 on Nov. 28, 1978.
• The 32-margin of victory was Creighton’s largest of the season and the fifth time under Jim Flanery the Bluejays have won by at least 30 points. CU has twice defeated Wichita State by at least 30 points and owns large non-conference wins over North Dakota (+39) and Memphis (+33) under Flanery.
• The 32-margin of victory was the third-largest winning margin in MVC play under Flanery.
• The win marked the third straight season the Bluejays have beaten the Purple Aces by at least 26 points.
Largest MVC Winning Margins
Under Jim Flanery (since 2002-03)
Opponent Date Score Margin
Wichita State 1-7-10 89-48 41
Wichita State 1-4-08 83-47 36
Evansville 1-12-12 65-33 32
Missouri State 1-8-09 92-63 29
Illinois State 2-19-11 71-44 27
UNI 2-24-12 74-48 26
Evansville 1-6-11 81-55 26
Evansville 1-14-10 63-37 26
Bluejays Hit the Boards
Creighton snagged 50 rebounds in its win over SIU (Jan. 14). Sarah Nelson led the team with 11 boards, while three Jays tied or set a career-high for rebounds. McKenzie Fujan doubled her previous rebounding high, grabbing eight in the win. Alexis Akin-Otiko tied her career-best with seven boards. Sammy Jensen entered the game with three rebounds in 82 minutes played on the season before the 5-foot-5 freshman snagged a career-best five rebounds in 11 minutes against the Salukis.
Trail to Win
In 15 of Creighton’s 17 wins this year, the Bluejays have fallen behind in the opening minutes, only to come back and own a lead before halftime. Creighton, which never trailed in its win at Wyoming, led at halftime in its first eight wins of the season before overcoming a halftime deficit for a win at Indiana State (Jan. 20). A quick glance at some of CU’s deficits overcome for wins this year:
• Nov. 11 at UND, CU trailed by 6 just 90 seconds into the game, but led 34-28 at halftime and won 72-54.
• Nov. 13 at NDSU, CU trailed by 8 six minutes into the game, but led 28-24 at halftime and won 71-51.
• Dec. 18 vs. BGSU, CU trailed by 10 with 9:15 left in the first half, but led 26-25 at halftime and won 49-47.
• Dec. 20 at UTSA, CU trailed by 6, six minutes into the game, but led 23-18 at halftime and won 54-53.
• Jan. 14 vs. SIU, CU trailed by 8, five minutes into the game, but led 30-26 at halftime and won 66-59.
• Jan. 20 at Indiana State, CU trailed 36-27 at halftime and was down 57-45 with seven minutes remaining before using a 17-3 run, including 12 unanswered points, and the game-winning bucket with 2.0 seconds left to win 64-62.
• Feb. 2 vs. Wichita State, WSU went on a 14-0 run to take a 16-6 lead seven minutes into the game before the Jays bounced back to lead 30-29 at halftime and win 61-59.
• Feb. 17 vs. Illinois State, ISU led by nine in the first half and was up 29-23 at halftime before the Jays started the second-half on an 8-0 run and would win 68-59.
• Feb. 24 at UNI, the Panthers scored the first seven points of the game, but CU scored the last 10 points of the first half to lead 27-19 at the break en route to a 74-48 win.
• Feb. 26 at Bradley, BU led 16-11 midway through the first half, but the Jays scored 13 straight, led by four at the break and won 68-59.
Alexis in Stitches
Alexis Akin-Otiko had an unfortunate ending to her best game in MVC play at Missouri State on Jan. 5. The freshman scored 10 points, making all five of her field goal attempts in Creighton's game at MSU, scoring in double figures for the second time this season. The rookie left the game with 2:47 remaining after colliding head-on with Lady Bear star Casey Garrison. Akin-Otiko needed four stitches to repair a cut under her right eye, while Garrison suffered a broken nose in the collision.
Jim Flanery coached in his 300th game as Creighton's head coach at Wichita State on Jan. 8. He joins Bruce Rasmussen as the only other coach in school history to reach 300 games as CU's leader. Rasmussen coached in 343 games in 12 seasons at Creighton, while Flan is now in his 10th season. Rasmussen, now Creighton’s athletic director, was 160-140 (.533) after 300 games, while Flanery went 176-124 (.587) in his first 300 games at CU.
Best Non-Conference RPI & SOS in MVC
• As it annually does, Creighton again played the strongest non-conference schedule in the MVC. When non-conference play concluded, the Bluejays’ strength of schedule (SOS) through Dec. 28 was 18. Only one other school in the MVC had an SOS in the top 100, as Illinois State’s SOS was 39 before Valley play began. The average strength of schedule for the nine other MVC teams was 174 – or 156 spots lower than Creighton’s.
• Creighton’s league-leading RPI was 49 before MVC play began. The Jays were one of four MVC teams in the top 100, with Missouri State (63), Bradley (82) and Illinois State (97) joining them.
No Bad Non-Conference Losses
One reason for Creighton’s high non-conference RPI and strength of schedule is the fact that the five teams Creighton lost to this year were a combined 52-4 in non-conference action. Colorado (11-0), Notre Dame (12-1), Nebraska (11-1), Kansas (11-1) and South Dakota (7-1) had impressive non-conference marks. Notre Dame is ranked second and Nebraska is ranked 16th in this week's AP poll.
Tritz Named All-Tournament
Carli Tritz was named to the UTSA Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team following her play at the event in San Antonio Dec. 20-21. Tritz scored 14 points against UTSA and followed with a game-high 18 points and five assists against Colorado to average 16 points per game at the tournament.
Concussions are Contagious?
Well no, but two Bluejay freshmen missed time with concussions in December. Taylor Johnson missed three games (Dec. 18-21) with concussions symptoms, due to a concussions suffered in practice the week before playing Bowling Green on Dec. 18. Sammy Jensen then suffered a concussion while taking a charge in Creighton’s game at UTSA (Dec. 20). Both freshmen returned to action in Creighton’s MVC opener.
Bluejays Lose Norman Again
For the second straight season Riley Norman will not appear in a regular-season game for the Bluejays. The Des Moines native suffered a torn ACL during preseason practices prior to her freshman year in 2010-11 and missed the year. The forward underwent surgery for a separate knee injury on Dec. 22 and will miss all of the 2011-12 season because of the injury.
Freshman Makes History
Taylor Johnson became the first freshman in school history to make at least four three-point field goals in consecutive games earlier this year when she drained four against both NC State (Nov. 27) and at Wyoming (Dec. 1). The rookie has found her shooting touch, as she has gone 11-of-27 (.407) from long range after starting her career 1-of-14 (.071) from beyond the arc. She was the first Bluejay to make at least four threes in consecutive games since Kelsey Woodard did so in the final two games of the 2008-09 season.
3-Point Streak Snapped
Creighton had made at least five three-pointers in its first 11 games this year before it made a season-low three and shot a season-low 15.8 percent (3-19) from long range against Drake on Dec. 31. The 11-straight games with five threes was CU’s longest streak since making five threes in 12 straight games between Jan. 8 – Feb. 20, 2004. The Bluejays ended last season having made at least five three-pointers in their final eight games as the Jays set a school-record with 19 consecutive games with at least five threes.
Creighton went 4-2 on the road in non-conference action this season after posting a combined 2-8 record in non-conference road games over its previous two seasons. Creighton captured its first winning record on the road in non-conference play since Jim Flanery’s first season in 2002-03 when the Bluejays went 6-2 in non-conference road games (3-2 in the regular-season and 3-0 in the WNIT). The Jays were 2-2 in non-conference road games in 2004-05 and 4-4 on the non-con road in 2003-04.
Tritz Reaches 400 Points Rapidly
With 13 points against South Dakota (Nov. 22), sophomore Carli Tritz eclipsed 400 career points in just her 35th career game. She became the fastest Bluejay to reach 400 points since Becky Flynn scored her 400th career point in her first game as a sophomore in 1993. Flynn reached 400 points in her 29th career game. If you’re curious about other recent Bluejays to quickly reach 400 – Christy Neneman (37), Kelsey Woodard (38) and Laura Spanheimer (39) – were all edged out by Tritz.
Flan Schedules the Big Boys (or Girls)
Creighton played five games against teams from BCS conferences this season, continuing a trend head coach Jim Flanery started when he took over in 2002-03. The Bluejays have played 66 games against BCS schools in that span, 26 more than the next closest MVC school – Drake (40). Flanery’s 19 wins against BCS schools in that span are nine more than the next closest MVC school in that span – Illinois State (10). In fact, Flan has more wins against BCS conference (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC) schools since he took over than Bradley has games played (17) against BCS schools.
MVC vs. BCS since 2002-03
School Games Wins
Creighton 66 19
Illinois State 32 10
Drake 40 9
Missouri State 32 7
Indiana State 20 6
Northern Iowa 37 4
Wichita State 21 4
Evansville 20 3
Bradley 17 3
Southern Illinois 22 0
Nelson: 2-Time MVC Player of the Week
Whatever the opposite of a sophomore slump is, Sarah Nelson is doing it. The sophomore was named the MVC Player of the Week twice in the first three weeks of the season, earning the honor on Nov. 28 following a week in which she averaged 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds and set career-highs for rebounds and points in a game. Nelson turned in a career-high 17 rebounds against South Dakota (Nov. 22) and followed with a career-high 22 points against NC State (Nov. 27). She made 9-of-10 shots against the Wolfpack and to finish the week 14-of-20 (.700) from the field.
• Nelson also earned MVC Player of the Week honors after the opening week of the season when she averaged 14.5 points per game and made 12-of-16 shots (.750) from the field in road wins at North Dakota and North Dakota State.
• Nelson is the first Bluejay two be named MVC Player of the Week twice in one season since Megan Neuvirth in 2008-09.
• Nelson is the first Bluejay to be named MVC Player of the Week twice in the same month since Christy Neneman in February 2002.
• Nelson scored in double figures in her first six games this year after never scoring 10+ in consecutive games at all as a freshman.
Nelson Grabs 17 Rebounds
Sarah Nelson had the best rebounding game by a Bluejay since 2003 on Nov. 22 when she pulled down 17 rebounds against South Dakota. The 17 boards were not only a career-high, but they were also a D.J. Sokol Arena record. The 17 caroms were the most by a Bluejay since two-time MVC Player of the Year Christy Neneman snagged 17 rebounds against Indiana State on Feb. 27, 2003. The 17 rebounds are tied for the 10th-most in a single game in school history.
3s by the Dozen
Creighton made a season-high 12 three-pointer in its 74-67 win over NC State (Nov. 27). The game marked the 20th time under Jim Flanery the Bluejays have made at least 12 triples in one game, moving Creighton’s record to 16-4 (.800) under Flan when making at least 12 threes. The Jays are now 35-11 (.761) under Flan when making 10 or more three-pointers in a game.
Career Highs All Around
The Bluejays had four players score career-high point totals in their 74-67 win over NC State (Nov. 27), led by Sarah Nelson’s 22 points. Taylor Johnson entered the NC State game with 13 points scored in her first four collegiate games before snapping out of her shooting funk by hitting 4-of-10 three-pointers and finishing with 15 points. Junior Jasmin Corbin scored a career-high nine points, making a career-best 6-of-6 free throws, and sophomore Jordan Garrison finished with a then career-high nine points by making 3-of-5 three-pointers in her first career start. Junior Ally Jensen dished a career-high seven assists – three more than her previous career-best – while she also equalled her career-high with six rebounds against the Wolfpack.
Not So Rocky Road
The Bluejays won their first two road games of the season for the first time since 1995. Creighton opened the season with consecutive road wins in its first two games for the first time in school history. Prior to its 72-54 win at North Dakota to open the year, Creighton had not won its first road game of the season since 1999 and had not won a season-opener on the road since 1998.
Bluejays Blowout Bison
Creighton blasted North Dakota State 71-51 on Nov. 13, the Bluejays’ first 20-point non-conference road win since a 78-56 win at Colorado State on Nov. 24, 2007. It marked just the third non-conference road win of at least 20 points under head coach Jim Flanery, with the first coming on Dec. 20, 2002 – 80-57 at UC Irvine.
Creighton opened the season with a 72-54 win at North Dakota, earning head coach Jim Flanery his 171st career victory. That win moved him ahead of his predecessor Connie Yori (170) alone into second place on the CU career victories chart. He now trails only Bruce Rasmussen’s (currently Creighton’s AD) 196 wins for tops in school history.
Creighton Coaching Wins
Name Wins Seasons
Bruce Rasmussen 196 12
Jim Flanery 187 10
Connie Yori 170 10
Gaye Kinnett 33 3
Eddye McClure 26 3
Howard Faber 11 1
We’re Still Young
One season after half of the roster was made up of freshmen, the 2011-12 roster consists of 12 players, nine of which are underclassmen. The Bluejays have one senior (DaNae Moore), two juniors, five sophomores, three true freshmen and one redshirt freshman on the roster.
Creighton’s Sister Act Continues
One of the three freshmen on this year’s team is Sammy Jensen, the younger sister of junior Ally Jensen, continuing the recent trend of sisters playing for the Bluejays. Last year, Kellie and Sarah Nelson played alongside each other. Before the Nelson’s played together, the last recorded sister duo to play on the same Bluejay basketball squad was Peggy and Patty Bierle during the 1978-79 season. Kelsey Woodard (2007-11) followed older sister Kristi (2002-06) and Laura Spanheimer (2001-05) followed in the steps of her older sister Krissie (1997-01) to solidify this basketball program as true family environment.
Five of Creighton’s 12 players on this year’s roster are from Nebraska – Omaha products Jasmin Corbin (Millard West) and Sarah Nelson (Westside), Seward High graduate Alyssa Kamphaus, Wahoo Bishop Neumann product McKenzie Fujan and Alexis Akin-Otiko out of Bellevue West.
The Bellevue Bloodline
Freshman Alexis Akin-Otiko continues a trend at Creighton which began in 2002-03. Akin-Otiko attended Bellevue West, following in the footsteps of former Bluejays and fellow Bellevue West Thunderbirds Kristi and Kelsey Woodard. Kristi played for the Jays from 2002-06 and Kelsey played from 2007-11, meaning one T-Bird has been on the roster every year since 2002-03 – with the exception of 2006-07. CU has had at least one player from Bellevue on the roster every season for the last decade, as Chevelle Herring, a Bellevue East product, played from 2005-10.