During one timeout in Creighton’s 85-64 thumping of Providence Saturday at D.J. Sokol Arena, Bluejays coach Jim Flanery had to explain to his team the difference between a good 3-point attempt and a great one.
It was hard for the crowd of 1,591 to tell the difference early on as the Bluejays hit their first four attempts — all from 3-point range — in building a 12-0 lead.
But when the Jays missed their next 13 shots and squandered the lead, Flanery took time for a teaching moment.
“In some ways our shots were good shots,” Flanery said, “but it is a little bit fool’s gold because we then thought that we could take kind of good 3s instead of great 3s, and we started missing.”
Sarah Nelson, who netted her sixth double-double of the season and fourth in the past five games with 18 points and 14 rebounds, said the Jays thought they couldn’t miss after the hot start.
“It was kind of one of those things where everyone starts hitting a 3, and everyone wants to join the party,” Nelson said.
Creighton (15-10, 9-4) took over sole possession of third place in the Big East thanks to Villanova’s 69-56 loss to conference leader St. John’s.
The Jays looked on pace early to best their season-high offensive output of Jan. 11 in a 97-65 win at Providence.
McKenzie Fujan was 2 of 2 from long range while Sammy Jensen and Marissa Janning each added one during the first 1:40 as the Jays built a double-digit advantage.
Fujan finished with 25 points — her second highest offensive output of the year — on 11-of-21 shooting from the field. She said the enthusiasm from the early 3-point success trickled down through the lineup.
”Everybody was kind of excited and ready to shoot,” Fujan said.
But when the Jays cooled off, Providence took its first lead at 20-19 when Alexis Harris sank a jumper with 9:34 remaining in the first half.
The Bluejays responded with a 9-1 run over the next 3:52, fueled by a Nelson 3-pointer and a pair of Fujan layups as CU went up 28-22.
Creighton went into halftime nursing a 40-37 lead before it scored the first 12 points of the second half to take a 52-37 lead. Providence missed its first seven shots after halftime.
“The start of each half was crazy good,” Flanery said, “and the good thing about the second half is that we didn’t give it all back right away.”
The Creighton advantage swelled to 16 points when Jordan Garrison drained a 3-pointer with 11:56 left.
The Bluejays travel to Xavier on Tuesday to face the Musketeers before returning home next Sunday to host No. 24 St. John’s.
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Video: Creighton-Providence game highlights: