OMAHA - Senior McKenzie Fujan scored a career-high 38 points, including 28 in the second half, to lead the Creighton women's basketball to an 86-78 victory over visiting DePaul in a BIG EAST matchup inside D.J. Sokol Arena on Saturday, Jan. 4.
Creighton (9-6, 3-0 BIG EAST) remains undefeated in conference play with the win after dealing DePaul (10-4, 1-1 BIG EAST) its first league defeat.
Down 4-0 early in the contest, the Bluejays got a lift from Fujan and fellow seniors Sarah Nelson as well as Jordan Garrison to take an 8-7 edge. Nelson dropped in the first Bluejay bucket of the game, then Fujan and Garrison each knocked down three-balls to give Creighton its first lead at the 14:50 mark.
Leading 10-9 moments later, DePaul used its speed to capitalize on six Creighton turnovers to steamroll to a 16-0 run and take a 25-10 advantage with 8:32 remaining in the first half.
Still down 15 (35-20) with 3:05 on the clock, Fujan began to take over as she led the Bluejays on a 9-2 run to close the half. Fujan kick started the Bluejays with a trey form the left wing, then turned a steal from freshman MC McGrory into a stop-and-pop jumper to make it 35-25 (1:49). Nelson knocked in one-of-two free throws on the next Creighton possession, then Garrison capped the run with her second three-pointer of the half.
DePaul scored the final bucket of the first half, but the Bluejays seized the momentum as the teams went to the locker room with Creighton down, 37-29.
The Blue Demons opened the second half with a bucket to push the game back to a double-digit margin (39-29), yet Creighton remained undaunted. Senior Alyssa Kamphaus delivered an interior layup, then Fujan drained her third trifecta of the afternoon to make it 39-34 (18:25).
Another DePaul bucket had no effect as sophomore Marissa Janning, Fujan and freshman Lauren Works went back-to-back-to-back from outside the arc to give Creighton the lead at 43-41 with 16:04 remaining in the second half. The Bluejay run didn't slow down until Creighton boasted a 54-46 lead with 12:59 remaining.
Showing the reason the Blue Demons were the preseason favorite in the BIG EAST Conference, DePaul responded to tie the game at 56-56 and again at 61-61. The Bluejays, though, refused to give up the lead they had worked so hard to build. Each time DePaul drew even, Creighton answered with a mini-run.
The final Bluejay blow came via a 15-5 run to build Creighton's largest lead of the game, 76-66, with 6:03 remaining. Fujan delivered 11 points during the surge, while Nelson tossed in the remaining four points for the Bluejays.
Creighton claimed the second-half by a 57-41 margin, marking its largest second-half output of the season, shooting an astounding 68% from the field in the period (19-of-28).
Fujan led all scorers from the field, draining 6-of-8 from long range, connecting on 13-of-17 shot attempts (76%). She also finished 6-of-7 from the free throw line to become the first Bluejay to eclipse the 30-point barrier since current assistant coach Chevelle Herring scored 31 vs. Kansas on Dec. 13, 2008.
Nelson posted her second consecutive double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Janning added 15 points and Garrison scored a season-high 11 points for the Bluejays.
DePaul's Jasmine Penny led four Blue Demons in double digits with 26 points before fouling out late in the game.
Creighton shot 51 percent (28-of-55) from the field while holding DePaul to 43 percent (31-of-73). The Bluejays nailed 44 percent (11-of-25) from three-point range while DePaul went just 3-of-17 (18%).
The Bluejays travel to St. John's to take on the Red Storm in BIG EAST action on Wednesday, Jan. 8 in New York at 6 pm (CT).