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Women's Basketball Heads to MVC Tournament

Creighton Bluejays at State Farm MVC Tournament
The Family Arena • St. Charles, Mo.
March 8-11, 2012

No. 4 Creighton Bluejays (17-12, 11-7 MVC)
Radio: KOIL AM 1180 (www.koilam1180.com)
Video: www.valley-live.tv (Quarterfinals)
TV: Fox Sports Midwest (Semifinals & Finals)
Live Stats: www.mvcstcharles.com
Twitter: @GoCreighton, @CreightonWBB


2012 STATE FARM MVC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Thursday, March 8 -- Session I
Game 1 -- #8 Bradley (16-14, 7-11) vs. #9 Southern Illinois (8-21, 4-14), 4 p.m. [Valley Live]
Game 2 --  #7 Drake (15-14, 9-9) vs. #10 Evansville (5-24, 2-16), 7 p.m. [Valley Live]
 
Friday, March 9 -- Session II
Game 3 -- #1 Missouri State (21-7, 14-4) vs. Winner Game 1, 12 p.m. [Valley Live]
Game 4 -- #4 Creighton (17-12, 11-7) vs. #5 UNI (16-13, 9-9), 2:30 p.m. [Valley Live]
 
Friday, March 9 -- Session III
Game 5 -- #2 Illinois State (18-11, 13-5) vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m. [Valley Live]
Game 6 -- #3 Wichita State (18-11, 12-6) vs. #6 Indiana State (15-15, 9-9), 8:30 p.m. [Valley Live]
 
Saturday, March 10 -- Session IV
Game 7 -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1:30 p.m. [Fox Sports]
Game 8 -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m.  [Fox Sports]
 
Sunday, March 11 -- Session V
Championship -- Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 2 p.m. [Fox Sports]


• Creighton enters the MVC Tournament having won five of its last six games.

• Creighton leads the league in defense, allowing just 57.9 points per game.

• In MVC play only, Creighton led the league in field-goal percent defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 38.4 percent from the field.

• Creighton ranks second in the MVC with 13.6 assists per game despite ranking seventh in the league in scoring (61.2 ppg).

• The Bluejays posted a better record in the second half of the MVC season (6-3) than the first half (5-4) – the first time since 2002-03 they’ve accomplished that feat.

• The Bluejays are playing in their 20th MVC Tournament, and are 19-18 all-time at the event, including 9-9 under Jim Flanery.

• Creighton won its only MVC Tournament title 10 years ago in 2002.  The Jays have appeared in three of the last five MVC title games, but are just 1-5 all-time in the championship game.

• Creighton is playing as the No. 4 seed for the second straight season and the sixth time overall.  The Jays are just 2-5 while playing as the fourth seed.

• In the nine games Creighton has played at The Family Arena (5-4), the Bluejays are shooting just 35.8 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from three-point range, averaging 56.6 points per game at the venue.

• Creighton’s seven returning players who have appeared in the MVC Tournament are a combined 22-of-55 (.400) from the field and 9-of-28 (.321) from three-point range – including Ally Jensen’s 6-of-12 game as a freshman – in their 19 cumulative games played at the event.

Scouting the Bluejays
Creighton finished fourth or higher in MVC play for the fifth straight season and eighth time in 10 seasons under head coach Jim Flanery.  The Bluejays had their longest winning streak of the year snapped at five games in the regular-season finale at Drake last weekend, but posted an 11-4 MVC mark in their last 15 games after starting 0-3 in Valley play for just the second time in program history.

The Bluejays again played the toughest non-conference schedule in the league, as their strength of schedule was ranked 18th in the NCAA before starting conference play (the rest of the MVC had an average SOS of 174 at the end of non-conference play).  The Jays grabbed non-conference wins over ACC foe North Carolina State and Mid-American Conference champion Bowling Green, a perennial NCAA tournament team.

CU is the top defensive team in the MVC, allowing only 57.9 points per game and it ranks second in the MVC with 13.6 assists per game.

Nine of Creighton’s 12 roster spots are filled by underclassmen and five of the top six scorers this year are underclassmen, led by the top two scoring sophomores in the league – Carli Tritz and Sarah Nelson.  Tritz is the first sophomore to lead CU in scoring since 2002 MVC Player of the Year Christy Neneman.  The first-team all-MVC guard leads the team in points (13.9), assists (3.7) and steals (1.9) per game.  Nelson, an honorable-mention all-MVC forward, is averaging 12.8 points and leads the team in rebounding (7.7 rpg), blocks (32), field goal percentage (.509) and double-doubles (10).  Her 10 double-doubles are the most by a Bluejay since 1987-88.

Junior Ally Jensen (8.6 ppg) leads the team and ranks fifth in the MVC with 61 three-pointers this season and she ranks 10th in school history with 140 career threes.

Head Coach Jim Flanery
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 187-128 (.594).  The winningest MVC coach in school history, his 116 MVC wins are tied for 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 9-9 all-time in the MVC Tournament, 5-4 in St. Charles.

CU at the Tournament
• The Bluejays are 19-18 all-time in the MVC Tournament, appearing in each of the last 19 tournament since joining the league (on the women’s side) in 1992-93. 
• The Bluejays have appeared in three of the last five title games, falling in heartbreaking fashion each time.  CU is now 1-5 all-time in the MVC Tournament championship game, winning its only title in 2002, while losing in 1994, 1999, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
• Creighton is the No. 4 seed for the sixth time – its most popular seed in the tournament (it has been the No. 2 seed five times).
• The Jays are just 2-5 as the No. 4 seed, appearing as the fourth seed in 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008 and 2011.  The 1995, 2001 and 2011 teams lost in the quarterfinals, while the 1996 and 2008 teams each lost in the semifinals.
• The average margin of defeat in Creighton’s last five MVC Tournament losses is 3.6.
• Prior to its loss to Wichita State in the quarterfinals last year, CU had won at least one game in the MVC Tournament in each of the previous five seasons.
• The Jays will look to avoid losing in the quarterfinals in consecutive years, a feat they have not suffered since 2004 and 2005.
• The Jays are 5-4 all-time at The Family Arena in St. Charles.

This is How a Heart Breaks
In three of the last five years, Creighton has come within one field goal of earning the MVC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, losing in the MVC Tournament championship game each time.  Creighton’s last three championship game losses have been by a combined four points.
• 2010 MVC Championship – Creighton leads by eight, 53-45, with 7:46 to play but does not score a point for the remainder of the game.  Northern Iowa ends the game on a 9-0 run, including a pair of free-throws after a foul away from the basket with 7.1 seconds remaining to win 54-53.
• 2009 MVC Championship – In a game that featured 11 lead changes, the final one came with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, as Evansville hit the game-winning shot to down the Bluejays 47-45.
• 2007 MVC Championship – Creighton held an 11-point second-half lead, only to fall behind by five before tying the game late.  The Bluejays had two free-throws to take the lead with six seconds left in regulation, but missed them both and lost 65-64 to Drake in overtime on the Bulldogs’ home floor.

Career Numbers in the MVC Tourney
Only two active Bluejays have started a game at the MVC Tournament – as Carli Tritz and Ally Jensen both started against Wichita State last year.  Complete career tournament stats listed in chart below.
• Carli Tritz was the only Bluejay to score in double figures at the MVC Tournament last year, scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but she also tied her career-high seven turnovers in the loss to Wichita State.
• Sarah Nelson scored eight points and had two rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in her only MVC Tournament game before this year.
• Ally Jensen scored a career-high 18 points, by making 6-of-12 three-pointers in CU’s quarterfinal win over Drake as a freshman in 2010, but she has not scored in her three MVC Tournament games since that performance.
• DaNae Moore is the most experienced Bluejay in the tournament, having played in seven games.  She’s 4-for-10 from the field and 7-of-11 from the line with 16 points and 22 rebounds in her seven tournament games.
• Jordan Garrison and McKenzie Fujan didn’t scored in their MVC tourney debuts last year and Jasmin Corbin has five points in four career tournament games.

Not So Family-Friendly Arena
In its first five games played at The Family Arena in St. Charles, site of this week’s State Farm MVC Tournament, the Bluejays averaged just 52.6 points per game, shooting 31.5 percent from the field (91-289) and 23.3 percent from three-point range (20-86).  In 2010, the Jays shot 44.1 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from three-point range, but overall are still shooting only 35.8 percent (175-489) from the field and 26.8 percent (45-168) from long range in nine games at the venue.  The Bluejays average 56.6 points and allow 52.6 points per game all-time at this site.

10-Year Reunion
Creighton’s only MVC Tournament title came in 2002, when the Bluejays – who were led by a pair of sophomores – knocked off Indiana State, Evansville and Drake for the championship. Tournament MVP Christy Neneman poured in an MVC school-record 39 points in the title game against Drake, while Dayna Finch put on a shooting display by making eight three-pointers in the quarterfinals  vs. Indiana State.  Head Coach Jim Flanery was an assistant coach on that team and current assistant coach Jenny (Burns) Vickers started each game of the 2002 tournament and led the team with nine rebounds in the championship game.

Flan in the Postseason
Head Coach Jim Flanery won his first MVC tournament game (70-54 over Illinois State in 2003), and is now 9-9 in the MVC Tournament.  The Jays are 11-6 in the postseason WNIT under Flanery, including the WNIT Championship in 2004.  Overall, Flanery’s teams are 20-15 in postseason games (WNIT and MVC tournament), including two WNIT Final Four appearances and three appearances in the MVC Tournament title game.

NCAA Talk
Should Creighton capture its second MVC Tournament title this week, the Bluejays would earn their fourth NCAA Tournament bid.  The Bluejays played in the NCAA Tournament in 1992, 1994 and 2002.  CU is 2-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.  If the Bluejays do not win the Valley title, CU will likely earn an invite to the postseason WNIT.  CU has played in nine WNITs – 1987, 1989, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.  The Jays are 13-8 all-time in the postseason WNIT, including a Final Four run in 2003 and the 2004 WNIT Championship.

The Case for Postseason Play
At 17-12 entering the MVC Tournament, the Bluejays may have a chance to earn an invitation to the WNIT for the eighth time in the last 10 years.  The Bluejays enter the week with an RPI of 84 according to the latest NCAA RPI report.  The Jays played 10 games against teams from the RPI top-100 this year, posting a 3-7 mark against those squads, including non-conference wins over Bowling Green and North Carolina State.  CU’s RPI is second in the MVC, behind only Missouri State’s 53.

Marching the Wrong Way
Since 2001-02, the Bluejays have just two losing records in March – a 2-3 mark in 2007 and an 0-3 record in 2011.  The Bluejays have lost their last five games in the month of March dating back to a WNIT win over Stephen F. Austin in 2010.  Despite the five straight defeats in March, head coach Jim Flanery still owns a record 33-22 (.600) in March games.

Turning Thirty
Creighton will be playing in its 30th game of the season on Friday.  The Bluejays are 9-3 in their previous 30th game of the season.  In each of the past two seasons, CU has lost its 30th game at the MVC Tournament, falling to UNI in 2010 and to Wichita State last year.

Three-Game Sweeps
Creighton will be looking for its third win in three tries over UNI when the teams meet in the quarterfinals.  The Bluejays last went 3-0 against a team in one season in 2009-10, when they beat both Drake and Wichita State en route to the MVC Title game, finishing the season 3-0 against both DU and WSU. 
• The Jays went 3-0 against UNI during the 1992-93 season.
• Should CU face Missouri State in the semifinals, the Jays would be looking to avoid going 0-3 against a team for the first time since it lost to Indiana State three times in the 2005-06 season. 
• The last time CU beat a team in the MVC Tournament after getting swept by that squad in the regular-season was in 1999, when the Jays beat Drake in the quarterfinals after DU had swept the regular-season series.
 
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 (Feb. 26), Flan tied former Drake leader Lisa Bluder for fifth in league history with 116 conference wins.  With two MVC wins in 2012-13 he will move past UNI’s Tony DiCecco into fourth place on the list. 

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

Smart Birds
Sophomore Sarah Nelson was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team on Tuesday.  The forward owns a 3.65 cumulative grade point average, and follows in the footsteps of older sister Kellie, who was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete Second-Team in each of the previous two seasons.  Junior Ally Jensen, who owns a 3.63 GPA in nursing, was named an honorable mention all-MVC Scholar-Athlete.

Carli’s Criminal Ways
Carli Tritz leads the team and ranks sixth in the league with 54 steals this year.  Of her 54 steals, 30 have come in her last nine games alone, as she has grabbed at least two steals in eight of those games and twice tied her career-high with six steals in that span.  The sophomore also led the team in steals as a freshman and already has 121 steals in her career, well on her way to becoming just the eighth player in school history with 200 steals. 

Jensen en Fuego
Junior Ally Jensen finished the regular-season by making 9-of-13 (.692) three-point attempts in her final two games, making all five of her attempts at Bradley (Feb. 26) and draining 4-of-8 at Drake (March 3).  Her 37.9 three-point field goal percentage ranks 32nd in the NCAA and she ranks fifth in the MVC and leads the team with 61 three-pointers – just three shy of cracking the CU single-season top 10.

Jensen Moving Up
By making nine three-pointers in her last two games, Ally Jensen has moved from 15th to 10th place on the CU career three-point charts.  Earlier this season she became the 16th player in school history to reach 100 career three-pointers.

Creighton Career 3-Point Field Goals
  1.    309    Kathy Halligan    1988-92
  2.    294    Dayna Finch    2000-04
  3.    261    Kelsey Woodard    2007-11
  4.    250    Laura Spanheimer    2001-05
  5.    187    Missy Miller    1992-96
  6.    174    Holly Sivesind    1993-97
  7.    169    Sam Schuett    2006-11
  8.    154    Ally Thrall    2004-08
  9.    151    Melissa Sanford    1989-92
10.    140    Ally Jensen    2009-pr.
11.    137    Krissie Spanheimer    1997-01
12.    134    Chevelle Herring    2005-10
         134    Angela Timmons    1997-01
14.    132    Kristi Woodard    2002-06
15.    102    Christy Neneman    2000-04
16.    101    Michelle Kaus    2005-09

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
School    W-L    Pct.
Creighton    116-64    .644
Illinois State    110-70    .611
Northern Iowa    108-72    .600
Indiana State    106-74    .589
Missouri State    105-75    .583
Drake    98-82    .544
Bradley    79-101    .439
Wichita State    66-114    .367
Evansville    66-114    .367
Southern Illinois    46-134    .256

Dynamic Sophomore Duo
Creighton’s leading scorers – Carli Tritz (13.9) and Sarah Nelson (12.8) – are also the top two scoring sophomores in the MVC.  They’ve been remarkable consistent this season, averaging a combined 26.7 points per game – or 42.9 percent of Creighton’s offense.  Tritz and Nelson have both scored in double figures 21 times this season.  Tritz is the first sophomore to lead the Bluejays in scoring since Christy Neneman in 2001-02.  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.

Foo Fighting
McKenzie Fujan enters the MVC Tournament playing the best basketball of her career.  Over her last three games the sophomore guard is averaging 10.3 points and 3.7 assists per game, while shooting 14-of-26 (.538) from the field.  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).  She followed with another double-digit scoring performance with 10 points at Bradley (Feb. 26). 

Double Trouble
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.

Bench Blast
Creighton’s bench has outscored the opposition’s bench 503-385 this year, including 80-18 in the final four games of the regular-season.  The reserves were key in wins at UNI (Feb. 24) and Bradley (Feb. 26).  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 Bradley to finish the weekend with a 52-10 advantage in bench points in the pair of wins.   

Great Guard Play
In Creighton's final two road wins this season (at Northern Iowa and Bradley), its 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.

The Ally Way 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.

Numbers of the 5-Game Winning Streak
Creighton put together its longest winning streak of the year, a five-game streak from Feb. 11-26, putting up impressive numbers in that span.  Only one Bluejay shot below 40 percent from the field during the streak.  Carli Tritz (15.2) and Sarah Nelson (15.0) combined to average more than 30 points per game during the streak, while Tritz had 5.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game in that span – far above her season averages.

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. 

Everyone Contributes
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.

Second-Half Heroics
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 8.4 points per game in the second half, compared to 5.4 points in the first half.  Tritz is shooting 50.6 percent from the field after halftime and just 38.3 percent in the first half.

High Times
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.  CU also dished a season-high 21 assists in the win at UNI.

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).
 
Better Balance in Wins
• Carli Tritz and Sarah Nelson average 39.5 percent of CU’s points in wins, but score 48.9 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 5.8 in losses.
• In wins, four Bluejays are averaging at least 3.8 rebounds per game, helping the Jays to a plus-4.2 rebounding advantage.
• In losses, only Nelson (6.8) averages better than 4.0 rebounds per game, as CU has a minus-5.5 rebounding margin in defeats.

20-20 Vision
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.

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 11-4 and are plus 36 (+2.4 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)

Creighton’s Comebacks
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 (Jan. 20) 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

Carli’s Consistent
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.

Defending D.J.
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.

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.

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.

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.

300
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.

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.

Road Winning
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.

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.

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.

Flan’s Movement
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

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.

Nebraska Natives
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.
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