Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:25 pm / Updated at 10:34 pm
basketball
Bluejays still seek offensive consistency
Xavier at Creighton
When: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday
Where: D.J. Sokol Arena
Radio: 1180 AM KZOT

XAVIER (7-9, 2-2)
F Briana Glover, 6-2, So., 7.4
F Leah Schaefer, 6-2, Fr., 5.7
G Jenna Crittendon, 5-10, So., 11.4
G Shatyra Hawkes, 5-3, Sr., 14.6
G Ashley Wanninger, 5-10, Sr., 11.9

CREIGHTON (10-7, 4-1)
F Sarah Nelson, 6-0, Sr., 12.6
C Alyssa Kamphaus, 6-3, Sr., 3.9
G Sammy Jensen, 5-5, Jr., 1.9
G McKenzie Fujan, 5-11, Sr., 11.4
G Marissa Janning, 5-8, So., 16.9

Notes

Creighton holds a half-game lead over Marquette and St. John's, while preseason favorite DePaul is tied with Xavier for fifth place.

This will be the first meeting between the schools.

Janning and McKenzie Fujan are the first Bluejays to score 34 or more points in a game since the 1990-91 season. Fujan had 38 points in the Jan. 4 win over DePaul.

Creighton brings a 12-game home winning streak against conference opponents into the game. CU hasn't lost to a league foe at home since Feb. 4, 2012.

Consistency hardly has been the Creighton women's basketball team's calling card on offense this season.

The Bluejays have been all over the map in terms of offensive production. They put up 70 points the game after Nebraska held them to 38. Creighton followed up an 86-point output against DePaul by scoring 48 points last week against St. John's.

The Bluejays bounced back in their next game to torch Providence for a season-high 97 points last Saturday.

“It's just kind of weird the way we've struggled this year,” Creighton center Alyssa Kamphaus said.

Despite ranking last in the Big East in scoring offense, the Bluejays lead the league with a 4-1 record. They'll try to maintain their hold on first place Wednesday night when they face Xavier in a 7:05 p.m. game at D.J. Sokol Arena.

Creighton is 10-7 overall, while the Musketeers are 7-9 and 2-2 in the league. Xavier has posted quality wins over Kansas, Michigan and St. John's, but also has lost to Longwood at home early in the season.

“They've been up and down, but they've had some success,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “It's not going to be an easy game. They'll come in and fight.”

Creighton has had to scrap for its points this season. Some of the inconsistency can be tied to the preseason losses of guards Carli Tritz and Taylor Johnson to injury. Tritz, slowed last season by an arthritic knee, was a dynamic passer, while Johnson would have added to the Bluejays' perimeter scoring potential.

One of the nation's best 3-point-shooting teams last season, Creighton ranks 161st in 3-point percentage (.309). The Bluejays also have struggled to get consistent inside contributions from anyone other than senior forward Sarah Nelson.

“You're always going to have times where you're inconsistent, but everyone always strives to be that complete team,” Creighton guard Marissa Janning said. “We've been back and forth all season, but we have gotten better since nonconference play.”

Janning is coming off a career-high 34 points in the 97-65 mauling of Providence. The Bluejays shot 61.7 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range. Janning made 13 of 17 shots from the field and was 6 of 9 from beyond the arc, while McKenzie Fujan was 7 of 8 from the field in scoring 18 points.

“We just hit shots all the way to the end of the game,” Flanery said. “You have games where you're hot for certain stretches, but we were making shots all the way until the last minute against Providence.”

Creighton is doing enough other things well to make up for some of its inconsistent offensive ways. The Bluejays rank second in the league and 70th nationally in scoring defense, giving up an average of 62 points per game. They are tough on perimeter shooters, ranking third in the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage defense.

Creighton also has done a good job of protecting and sharing the basketball. Still, Flanery would like to see his team get its offense straightened out as it moves deeper into league play.

“We tried to be a little more structured offensively against Providence,” Flanery said. “We scripted the first three plays and threw the ball to Sarah and live with her shots. Even if you don't make shots early, you have to get shots.

“Maybe it's a good thing for us to be a little more structured at the beginning of games. Maybe we can get off to some better starts, and starts sometimes dictate how you're going to play.”

* * *

>> Video: See Alyssa Kamphaus, Marissa Janning and coach Jim Flanery preview their upcoming game with Xavier:

Contact the writer: Steven Pivovar

stevepivovar@hotmail.com    |   402-679-2298    |  

Steven Pivovar is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and primarily covers Creighton athletics and the College World Series.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

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