OMAHA, Neb. -- Marissa Janning, McKenzie Fujan and Sarah Nelson combined for 51 of Creighton's 65 points, and four clutch free throws from freshman Lauren Works down the stretch helped the Bluejays to a 65-58 win over Villanova in its BIG EAST debut on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Creighton improved to 7-6 (1-0 BIG EAST), while Villanova dropped to 9-2 (0-1 BIG EAST).
Janning scored seven of Creighton's points during a 9-0 run that gave the Bluejays a 12-4 lead with 15:06 left in the first half, only to have the Wildcats answer with consecutive three-pointers to draw within two and force a Bluejay timeout.
The Wildcats played from behind until taking a 21-20 lead on a steal-and-score by Katherine Coyer with 4:40 to play in the first half. Villanova extended its margin to its largest gap as the opening 20 minutes came to a close, 29-26.
Janning led Creighton in scoring (9) and rebounding (4) in the first half, playing 16 minutes despite two early fouls. The Bluejays shot 37.5 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from the line in the first half.
Coyer topped Villanova with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the first half, as the Wildcats shot 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) in the first 20 minutes.
Creighton came out with a burst to start the second half, as junior Sammy Jensen drained a three-pointer to tie it before Janning blew through the lane for a lay-up and return the lead to the Bluejays, 31-29. Creighton would never surrender the lead again.
Creighton's edge grew to 34-29 on Nelson's three-pointer with 16:22 left, and 'Nova coach Harry Perretta quickly whistled for a timeout. Two minutes later the lead stretched to eight on Janning's three-pointer coming out of the media timeout and capping an 11-0 run to start the second half.
The teams traded baskets much of the next seven minutes before consecutive baskets by Fujan made it 49-40 with less than eight minutes to play. A free throw by Caroline Coyer cut the Bluejay lead to eight, yet Janning answered with a trifecta/ Moments later Fujan drained a short jumper to push the margin to 54-41 with 6:22 left. Coyer answered with a trey, only to have Fujan sink a leaner as make the lead a dozen with five minutes left.
Villanova didn't waste anytime clawing back, sinking three straight baskets to cut the deficit in half to 56-50 with four minutes remaining. Following the media timeout, the Wildcats got a defensive stop, then drew within four on a free-throw line jumper by Jordan Dillard. Nelson put an end to the Wildcats' 8-0 run with a jumper from the left wing, making it 58-52 with 2:35 left.
'Nova had two more steals and scores in the backcourt, drawing within two points, but Creighton would hang on as Fujan banked in a deep three-pointer to beat the shot clock, making it 61-56. Creighton had two chances to put the game away, only to miss consecutive front end's
'Nova got within three points, but freshman Works nailed four foul shots in the final 22 seconds to ice the victory.
Janning led all players with 19 points and seven rebounds, making 7-of-12 shots from the floor and 3-of-5 three-pointers. Fujan tied a season-best with 17 points and added three steals, while Nelson had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. Creighton made 47.1 percent for the game from the floor, including 9-of-21 three-point attempts, to help offset an 8-for-15 showing at the line. Creighton outrebounded Villanova 36-25 on the day, including 22-11 after intermission.
Villanova got 16 points off the bench from Katherine Coyer, while her sister Caroline Coyer added 10 points and five assists. The Wildcats finished 45.5 percent from the floor and were held to a season-low four trifectas in 21 attempts.
Creighton returns to action on Wednesday with a 3 pm New Year's Day game at Georgetown (6-6, 0-0 BIG EAST).
NOTES: Marissa Janning sank her 100th career three-pointer early in the first half ... Sarah Nelson's 3-pointer late in the first half moved her into 18th place on Creighton's all-time scoring list, passing Melissa Sanford (1,173). Nelson owns 1,184 points. ...The game was the 100th conference home game for Jim Flanery at Creighton. His record in those contests is 81-19 ...Creighton is now 4-0 all-time in its game in a new conference.
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MBB: Creighton vs. Oklahoma Highlights (11/19/14)
MBB Chicago State at Creighton Highlights (11/16/14)