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Courtesy: Eric Francis

Jays WBB Hosts North Dakota State

OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton (5-2) women's basketball team has its first chance to vault head coach Jim Flanery into a tie for the most victories in Bluejay history at 196 when the Jays  face the North Dakota State Bison (3-6) on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2:05 p.m.

North Dakota State Bison (3-6) at Creighton Bluejays (5-2)
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Series History: 
Creighton leads series, 7-1

Jays vs. North Dakota State
Creighton and North Dakota State met eight times previously, with the Jays holding a 7-1 advantage.  Creighton holds victories in each of the three previous contests and are 5-0 against the Bison at home.

Meetings with North Dakota State since 2000
Dec. 9, 2005:     NDSU 68, Creighton 63
Dec. 29, 2008:     Creighton 51, NDSU 40
Dec. 18, 2010:     Creighton 54, NDSU 44
Nov. 13, 2011:     Creighton 71, NDSU 51

ESPN Team of the Weekend
Creighton earned ESPN’s honor with victories over #25 Nebraska (66-57 on Dec. 5) and at Houston (75-54 on Dec. 8).  Quoting ESPN.com’s Graham Hays “A weekend win against Houston was actually the lesser part of the résumé for the week, but consider this a nod to the full body of work. The Bluejays proved inhospitable hosts to in-state foe Nebraska this past Wednesday, pulling off a 66-57 win. Marissa Janning led the scoring with 19 points in 25 minutes, including 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point line, but Creighton’s balance stood out. The home team had 22 assists on 27 field goals, including at least one assist from eight of the nine players who earned minutes. They were at it again against Houston, recording assists on 22 of 26 field goals, with McKenzie Fujan scoring 20 points.”

Inching Closer to Rasmussen and History
Jim Flanery captured his 195th career win against  Houston on Dec. 8, 2012.  Flanery’s 195 victories in 11 seasons trails the Bluejays overall leader, current Creighton athletics director Bruce Rasmussen, by just one.  Flanery would tie Rasmussen for the most wins in school history with a win over North Dakota State on Dec. 16.
 
Creighton Coaching Wins
Name                    Wins    Seasons
Bruce Rasmussen    196    12
Jim Flanery             195    11
Connie Yori             170    10
Gaye Kinnett             33    3
Eddye McClure           26    3
Howard Faber            11    1

Last Time Out: 12/8; W, 75-54 at Houston
Led by a career-high 20 points from junior McKenzie Fujan, the Creighton women’s basketball team blasted Houston 75-54 on Saturday, Dec. 8. The win lifted Creighton to 5-2 on the season, while Houston dropped to 4-6.

The Bluejays struggled out of the gate as Houston scored the first five points and pushed their lead to 14-7 with 14:45 left in the first period.  Coming out of the media timeout, junior Sarah Nelson hit the Jays first three-pointer.  Nelson’s triple ignited a 13-4 run for the Jays as Creighton claimed their first lead of the game at 20-18.  Freshman Marissa Janning tossed in five of her 15 points during the run, while senior Ally Jensen capped it with a
trifecta from the left with 10:25 remaining.

Moments later Janning drilled another three from the right corner to give Creighton its largest lead of the half at 23-20 with 8:43 remaining.  Unfortunately the Jays went ice cold for the rest of the half, missing their final 12 shots of the period.  Creighton’s shooting woes allowed Houston to close the half on a 13-2 run of their own, sending the Jays to the locker room down 33-25 at halftime.

The second half belonged to Fujan as the Weston, Neb., scored the first five points of the second half and went on to deliver 17 of her game-high 20 points in the period.   Fujan ended the Jays
shooting drought at 10:09 with a three-ball from the left corner at 18:34. Just 33 seconds later she converted a back-cut for an easy layup to get the Jays within one possession at 33-30. After two Houston foul shots, A. Jensen drilled her third triple, then junior Alyssa Kamphaus’ driving layup pulled Creighton even at 35-35 with 15:31 remaining.

The Jays extended their run to 21-3 in the first eight minutes of the second half as Janning hit another three-pointer followed by a layup from junior Alexis Akin-Otiko to give Creighton a 40-36 lead.  Finally sophomore Sammy Jensen delivered the knockout blow with back-to-back three-pointers, pushing the Jays edge to double-digits at 46-36 with 12:28 to go.

Road Warriors
The Bluejays opened the 2012-13 season with three consecutive victories away from home, two road and one neutral site wins.  The Jays rallied to best BYU 65-62 in overtime at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov. 28 (neutral) and defeated South Dakota State (63-54 on Nov. 14) and South Dakota (53-49 on Nov. 20) on the road.  The last time Creighton won its first four contests away from home was the 1995-96 season.  That year the Jays won their first three on the road as well as a neutral site game.

Creighton vs. the Summit League
The Bluejays have a combined 55-24 record against teams that make up the Summit League, including 2-0 this season (14-9 vs. Nebraska Omaha, 7-1 vs. North Dakota State, 11-8 vs. South Dakota, 4-0 vs. South Dakota State, 12-5 vs. UMKC and 7-1 vs. Western Illinois).   Head coach Jim Flanery is 11-2 against the Summit League in his tenure.

Sharing is Caring, Jays 49th in Nation in Assists
The key to Creighton’s current three-game winning streak has been ball movement.  Over the past five halves of play Creighton has knocked down 66 shots and recorded 52 assists (79%).  During that stretch eight of the 10 Bluejays that have seen time have two assists or more, led by 15 assists from junior Sarah Nelson and 14 from junior Carli Tritz.  Creighton currently ranks 49th in the NCAA in assists per game at 15.6.

Dropping 50
Trailing 33-28 at Houston at halftime, the Bluejays delivered one of their best halves in recent history.  Creighton outscored Houston 50-21 in the final period, shooting 17-of-28 from the field (.607) and 10-13 from beyond the arc (.769).  The last time the Jays notched 50 points or more in a half was on Dec. 20, 2012 when Creighton recorded 55 points in the second half of a 96-57 home win over North Dakota State.   Head coach Jim Flanery has led his team to 50-point halves 13 times.  The Jays are 12-1 in those contests,  7-1 at home (bold), 4-0 on the road and 1-0 in neutral site games.

Date    Opponent                       Pts/Half     Final
12-8-2     vs. Iowa                        52/1    W, 89-82
1-18-03   vs. Evansville                 55/1    W, 98-75
2-9-03     vs. Wichita State            50/2    W, 84-76
3-22-03   at Siena                         59/2    W, 96-86
11-30-03  vs. Stephen F. Austin     52/1    W, 91-64
1-8-04     vs. Indiana State            53/1    W, 87-69
11-28-04  vs. #18 Minnesota         52/2    L, 71-79
12-31-04  at Southern Illinois        51/2    W, 85-63
1-2-05     at Evansville                  55/2    W, 91-75
1-30-05    vs. Bradley                   51/2    W, 89-71
11-30-05  vs. Houston                  50/2    W, 76-59
12-20-10  vs. North Dakota           50/2    W, 96-57
12-8-12    at Houston                   50/2    W, 75-54

Third Time is the Charm

Playing their third home game of the season and their third ranked opponent in No. 25 Nebraska on Dec. 8.  The Bluejays’ 66-57 win over the Huskers ended a streak of 10 straight losses to ranked opponents, dating back to the Jays’ 75-71 win at No. 24 Illinois State on Feb. 2, 2008.  The Bluejays had not defeated a non-conference top-25 team since knocking off No. 14 Kansas 55-54 on Dec. 7, 1999. 

Creighton also ended a seven-game losing streak to Nebraska with Wednesday’s victory.  Creighton’s last win over the Huskers came on Dec. 18, 2004, 58-57.  The Jays are 2-17 against ranked teams under Jim Flanery and 2-8 versus the Huskers.

Scouting the Bluejays (5-2)
Off to their best start in three seasons, Creighton’s only two losses have been to #12 Oklahoma and #22 Kansas.  Despite a strong record, the Jays have plenty of room to improve.  Creighton has had extended lapses in every game, outside of the 66-57 win over #25 Nebraska.  Junior McKenzie Fujan and freshman Marissa Janning has been a spark for the Jays during the Bluejays three-game winning streak.  Janning has posted a combined 53 points during that span, while Fujan has delivered career-highs in points in consecutive outings.  While Janning and Fujan have shoulder the scoring load, juniors Sarah Nelson and Carli Tritz have found other ways to contribute.  Nelson held Nebraska’s Player of the Year candidate, Jordan Hooper, within a point on Dec. 5.  Three days later the Omaha native grabbed 16 rebounds and seven assists.  Tritz, meanwhile dished out 11 assists and snared 11 rebounds in the last two wins. 

Scouting the Bison (3-6)

North Dakota State enters Sunday’s contest on a three-game losing streak.  The Bison have dropped six of seven and will play without two of the three centers on their roster due to season-ending injuries.  As a result the Bison have moved to a four-guard starting lineup, hoping to increase the tempo of play.  Like the Bluejays, North Dakota State features a deep rotation of players.  Ten members of the Bison roster average at least 11 minutes, while 13 players have hit the court for NDSU this season. 
Senior Katie Birkel leads North Dakota State in most offensive categories as the Lincoln, Neb. native is averaging 12.7 ppg and 30.7 minutes per game.  As a team the Bison are shooting 38% from the field (215-568) and 29% from three-point land (52-178).  The game with the Jays will be NDSU’s third contest against an MVC opponent, falling to Northern Iowa (60-55 on Nov. 17) and Drake
(62-50 on Dec. 6) already.

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