Creighton Advances to BIG EAST Semis, with 61-52 Win over Butler
ROSEMONT, Ill. - Four players scored in double figures as third-seeded Creighton pulled away in the second half on the way to a 61-52 BIG EAST Quarterfinals victory over Butler on Sunday, March 9 at Allstate Arena.
Creighton pushed its record to 19-12 on the season following its victory, while Butler fell to 15-15. The win also gave Creighton a bit of closure as the Bluejays had lost both regular-season matchups with Butler.
Early in the game senior Sarah Nelson and Butler's Daress McClung appeared to be locked in a personal battle as the respective power forwards scored the first five points for each of their respective teams.
McClung pushed ahead with her seventh point in the opening six minutes, but was forced to the bench with 13:33 remaining in the period after picking up her second foul. Creighton quickly took advantage as Nelson drained back-to-back treys to cap an 11-2 Bluejay run, giving Creighton a 16-9 edge with 5:19 remaining in the half.
After the squads exchanged three-balls to make it 19-12 (4:20), things turned the wrong way for the Bluejays. Butler held Creighton off the scoreboard over the next four minutes, allowing the Bulldogs to take a 20-19 lead with 21 seconds remaining.
Creighton coach Jim Flanery used his first timeout of the game to draw up the final play of the period. The ball found Nelson open beyond the arc, but this time her shot was just off. The final three seconds of the half, may have changed the game as freshman MC McGrory grabbed the offensive board and knocked in a five-foot jumper at the buzzer to send Creighton into halftime with a 21-20 lead.
McGrory's effort proved to a prelude of things to come in the second half. McGrory went on to deliver a career-high 12 points, including 10 in the final 20 minutes.
Down 27-26 with 16:40 remaining, Nelson and McGrory each struck from long range to put Creighton back up by five, 32-27. Following a Butler bucket, Nelson hit one of two from the charity stripe, then forced McClung into a turnover. The result was McGrory's second trey of the game to make it 36-27 (12:39). Nelson cleaned the glass after another Butler miss, then McGrory hit a running jumper to put Creighton up by double-digits (38-27).
Down the stretch the Bluejays got BIG EAST Player of the Year, Marissa Janning, on track as Creighton went on to eliminate the Bulldogs.
Nelson led Creighton with 21 points, while McGrory has 12. Janning and Fujan rounded out the Bluejays in double figures with 10 points.
McClung led the way for Butler, finishing with a game-high 25 points.
Creighton advances to face the two-seed, St. John's, at 3:00 pm on Monday, March 10.