PLAYA del CAMREN, Mexico - Career efforts from juniors Sarah Nelson (29 points) and Jordan Garrison (15 points) lifted the Creighton women's basketball team to a 91-74 win over South Florida on Saturday, Dec. 22.
Nelson had it going from the opening shot as the Omaha native canned a three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game at 3-3. It felt so good; Nelson drained all four treys she took, en route to a 12-of-14 shooting performance.
Garrison, meanwhile, was 5-of-10 from beyond the arc to amass her career day. The Osceola, Mo., native even hit two trifectas from NBA range.
With the win the Jays moved to 8-2 with the win and captured the Caribbean Classic Tournament Championship with a 2-0 mark. USF fell to 9-2 overall and 1-1 in the Caribbean Classic. Miami (Ohio) also finished 1-1 at the Caribbean Classic, while Nevada (the only team Creighton did not play) was 0-2.
Down 11-10 early in the first half, Creighton seized control with a 10-2 burst. Garrison gave the Bluejays the lead with her first three-pointer, then Nelson followed with a four-footer to make it 15-11. After a USF bucket, Nelson converted a driving layup to push Creighton's lead back to four at 17-13. Free throws from junior McKenzie Fujan and sophomore Alexis Akin-Otiko capped the run, giving Creighton a 20-13 edge with 9:16 on the clock.
Five minutes later USF had tied the game at 27-27 and junior Carli Tritz went to the bench after picking up her third foul in the opening frame. Unphased the Jays turned to the tandem of Garrison and Nelson once more. The duo led the Jays on a 15-3 run over the next three minutes, scoring 13 of Creighton's 15 points.
Nelson got the run started with back-to-back buckets in the post, then junior Alyssa Kamphaus tossed in an eight-footer to make it 33-28 with 2:44 remaining. Following a USF turnover, Garrison found her mark from 23 feet in the right corner. Moments later Nelson drained a three from the right wing. Finally Garrison capped the run with her second trifecta to push Creighton's lead to 12 at 42-30 with 1:00 showing on the clock.
The Jays took a 42-32 lead into the locker room and quickly pushed their lead to 16 at 48-32 early in the second period.
USF tried to get back into the game behind full court pressure, cutting the Creighton lead to six at 55-49 with 14:31 left, but the Bluejays three-point barrage was too much. Tritz pushed the lead back to nine with a three-ball from the top of the key, then freshman Marissa Janning found the bottom of the net from the left corner.
The Jays pushed their lead to its highest margin, 19 points, on a three-pointer from senior Ally Jensen with 9:38 on the clock to make it 74-55.
Creighton finished the contest 16-of-29 (55%) beyond the arc, scoring more than 90 points for the first time since the Jays racked up 96 on North Dakota in a 96-57 win on Dec. 20, 2010. The 16 three-pointers ties a Creighton record for most in a single game. It has happened two times previously; against UC Davis on Nov. 27, 2009 and again on Dec. 6, 1989 versus Oral Roberts.
Nelson's 29 led all scorers, while Garrison (15), Janning (12) and Tritz (10) all reached double figures.
South Florida's Andrell Smith led the Bulls with 27 points, while her twin sister Andrea Smith finished with 22 points. Inga Orekhova rounded out the Bulls in double figures with 12 points.
The Jays will be off for eight days to celebrate the holidays, but will return to action on Sunday, Dec. 30 as Creighton faces Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. at 2 p.m.