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The Creighton women's basketball team opens the second round of BIG EAST play on Saturday, Feb. 1 as the Bluejays travel to Pennsylvania...
Courtesy: Steven Branscombe

Bluejays' WBB opens Second Round of BIG EAST Play at Villanova

OMAHA, Neb. - The Creighton women's basketball team opens the second round of BIG EAST play on Saturday, Feb. 1 as the Bluejays travel to Pennsylvania to take on Villanova at 1 pm (CT).

2/1: - 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Creighton (13-8, 7-2 BIG EAST) at Villanova (15-5, 5-4 BIG EAST)
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Last Time Out:W, 76-73 at Seton Hall, 1-28-14
In a game that came down to the final minute, Marissa Janning’s 28 points helped the Creighton women’s basketball team outlasted Seton Hall, 76-73.

Creighton and Seton Hall battled through 15 lead changes (including eight in the second half) as the Bluejays moved to 13-8 on the season and 7-2 through the first round of BIG EAST conference play.

Down 4-0 in the opening moments, the Bluejays appeared to seize control of the game with a 12-0 run. Janning knocked down a pull-up jumped to get Creighton on the board, then junior Sammy Jensen delivered from long-range to give the Bluejays their first lead of the game (5-4).  Senior McKenzie Fujan put a layup and a 12-foot jumper around a trey from Janning to make it 12-4 with 13:47 remaining in the first half.

Coming out of the first media timeout, Seton Hall scored and forced Creighton into three consecutive turnovers to knot the game at 12-12 in just 58 seconds.  The Pirates’ run didn’t stop until Seton Hall held a 19-14 lead (10:34).  Creighton responded with eight straight to reclaim the lead, 22-19. Trailing 27-26 with just over three minutes remaining, Creighton made a final push to take a 36-32 lead in at the break.

After trading shots through the first ten minutes of the second half, Creighton used an 11-3 run to claim the lead for good. Down 51-49, Janning got the rally started with a trifecta from the right corner. Senior Sarah Nelson and junior Alexis Akin-Otiko knocked down two free throws each Buckets by Janning and Nelson pushed Creighton’s lead to six at 60-54 (7:18).

Seton Hall closed the gap to 62-60, but back-to-back three-balls from Fujan and Janning appeared to put the game out of reach with 2:56 showing on the clock.  Once more the Pirates made it a one possession game with a 5-0 run, but Janning delivered a running layup to put Creighton back up five (70-65) with 1:29 remaining.  Fujan hit four free-throws down the stretch to secure the win.

Janning’s 28 points led all scorers, while Fujan finished with 16 points.  Nelson delivered a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Akin-Otiko rounded out the Jays in double-digits with 10 points.

Creighton vs. Villanova Series:
The Bluejays hold a 1-0 series edge on the Wildcats courtest of Creighton’s 65-58 win on Dec. 28 in Omaha.  Saturday will be the Bluejays first trip to Villanova.

About Villanova

  • Located in Villanova, Pa.
  • Founded in 1842.
  • Villanova has an enrollment of 6,584.
  • Known as the Wildcats.
  • Villanova finished 2012-13 with an 21-11 record and an 9-7 mark in the BIG EAST.  
  • Villanova returns six letterwinners from last season, including two starters (Burford and Holeman).
  • The Wildcats were picked to finish fourth in BIG EAST preseason poll.

Villanova Head Coach: Harry Perretta (Lycoming, 1978)
Record of 653-409 in 36 seasons, all at Villanova.
Perretta led Villanova to its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance last year, the Wildcats 11th postseason appearance in the last 14 years.
The 21 wins represents the 15th 20-win season for Perretta and the Wildcats.
On Nov. 12, 2011, he earned his 600th career victory with a 76-47 victory at Iona. Becoming the 35th coach in the history of women’s basketball at any level to reach the 600-win plateau, including the 22nd Division I coach to accomplish the feat.
He is also just the seventh Division I coach to win 600 games at one school.

Wildcats and Bluejays First Meeting, 12-28-13 - Creighton W, 65-58
Trailing 29-26 at halftime the Bluejays opened the second half with an 11-0 run over the first 5:42 to build a 37-29 lead.  

Creighton pushed its second half advantage to as much as 13 points (54-41 with 6:25 remaining) and held off a late surge by the Wildcats to earn a victory in its first conference game as a member of the BIG EAST.

The Bluejays shot 56% from the field in the second period (15-of-27), including a perfect 6-of-6 by senior McKenzie Fujan.  

The trio of Fujan, Marissa Janning and Sarah Nelson combined to score 51 points in the game, led by 19 from Janning.

Scouting Villanova (15-5, 5-4 BIG EAST)
After dropping three straight conference games through the middle of January, Villanova has resbounded to soundly defeat Xavier (61-32) and Georgetown (59-49) in its last two contests.

Villonova is the best team in the nation at ball security, committing just 9.1 turnovers per game this season.  In the Wildcats’ win over Georgetown they committed a season-low three turnovers.  Conversely Villanova forced Georgetown into 21 turnovers.  

The Wildcats struggle on the glass, allowing the Hoyas to grab 60 rebounds and have also been struggling from the field.  Over its last four games Villanova has shot over 40% from the field just once.  

Senior guard Devon Kane leads the Wildcats in scoring with 235 points (11.8 ppg).  Despite Villanova’s challenges on the glass, center Emily Leer and reserve Taylor Holeman can be a force in the middle with 37 combined blocks.

Keys to the Game w/Villanova:

  • Ball Security: The Bluejays and Wildcats are both in the top-15 of the NCAA in this category, for Creighton it is important not to have lapses as Villanova is a team that takes advantage of its opponents mistakes.
  • Take Advantage on the Glass: After outrebounding two of the best the BIG EAST has to offer in that category (Marquette & Seton Hall), the Bluejays have to punish Villanova on the glass.  
  • Ball Movement: Over Creighton’s last two contests the Bluejays’ motion offense has led to 37 assists (17.5 per game). Villanova is going to try to anticipate Creighton’s passing lanes and create turnover, thus the Bluejays have to be crisp in their passing.

Opening Round of BIG EAST Play Yields 7-2 mark.   
Creighton’s win at Seton Hall wrapped up the Bluejays first trip through the BIG EAST as the Bluejays sit in a tie for second place, one game behind conference leader St. John’s (8-1).  The Bluejays have just four road contests remaining: Villanova (2/1), DePaul (2/9), Xavier (2/18) & Marquette (3/1).

Janning Takes BIG EAST’s Top Spot in Scoring
Averaging 20.7 ppg through the first round of BIG EAST action, Marissa Janning has moved to the top of the scoring ranks.  Janning is averaging better than two points more than Marquette’s Katherine Plouffe (18.6), who held onto the top spot through the first four weeks of conference play.

Sometimes it IS How You Start
When the Creighton men’s basketball team made its trip to Villanova on Jan. 20 the Bluejays opened play against the #4 Wildcats by hitting their first nine treys to bounce out to a 27-8 lead.

Already this season the women’s team has fired up 43 trifectas earlier in the season.  

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