OMAHA — “We did a good job of speeding them up,” Creighton head coach Jim Flanery said after the game. Creighton may not have been the worst matchup for Nebraska Monday night, but it wasn’t far from the top of that list.
The Jays were humming. They had the energy. Credit senior guard Tatum Rembao (18 points) for that. She supercharged things and brought the juice right from the jump. Creighton raced out to a 9-0 lead that Husker coach Amy Williams felt left her team a little dazed.
Nebraska didn’t get its first basket of the game until more than four minutes in. Creighton turned a 9-0 start into a 19-13 lead after the first quarter and a 42-21 lead after 20 minutes. Nebraska played better in the second half, but that was enough.
Creighton led from start to finish to claim its fifth consecutive game in the series, 78-62.
“I felt like to start the game our energy level was OK, but I thought once Creighton threw a punch our way … I felt like we looked a little bit stunned,” Williams said. “For a second we kind of froze, and then our energy level wasn’t as high as it needed to be, our communication wasn’t as high as it needed to be, our focus on what we needed to do on offensive possessions was not where it needed to be.”
The Jays took 24 3s in the first 20 minutes of the game. Nebraska took 25 shots. The Jays’ game plan was to try and run Nebraska out of the gym.
Hard to find fault with that approach when the Jays entered the smaller team with perhaps a slight edge at the three guard spots. Flanery thought their speed might be able to counteract Nebraska’s size advantage, and NU had no way to play down to match.
Instead, Nebraska gave Creighton every opportunity to run and press the issue. NU had eight turnovers in the first half and gave up 10 points from fastbreak opportunities. It also gave up eight offensive boards.
The second-chance stuff went Creighton’s way. The 50/50 stuff went Creighton’s way.
While the Creighton bench was buzzing, the ladies on the court, regardless of which combination, were talking. From that standpoint, the difference between the two sides was more than noticeable.
And then in the second quarter, after she’d spent just six minutes on the court, disaster struck when freshman wing Ruby Porter turned an ankle and crumpled to the floor. She had to be carried off the court and came back out after halftime with a boot and crutches.
Nebraska’s depth went from bad to comically bad.
Nailah Dillard and MiCole Cayton, two transfer guards from Texas Tech and Cal, have yet to make their debuts this season.
Sophomore guard Trinity Brady, a starter at the 3 spot in Nebraska’s opener, turned an ankle with just minutes to play in a 29-point win and hasn’t played since. She was also in a boot and on crutches Monday night.
Sophomore guard Makenzie Helms opted to put her name in the transfer portal after the Huskers’ second game of the year.
Then Monday night Nebraska lost Porter.
The rotation at this point runs seven deep. Nebraska has two options off the bench—both of them true freshmen—and only three guards it can play.
Nebraska has junior Sam Haiby, who defenses can now key on with reckless abandon. Creighton did exactly that.
Nebraska shot just 10 3s against the Jays; the perimeter game wasn’t a threat and Creighton knew it. Haiby, fresh off a 33-point eruption against Illinois, was seeing multiple bodies every time she tried to drive. She finished with 18 points to lead the Huskers, but she shot 5-of-12 to get there and couldn’t create much for others.
Nebraska has sophomore Ashley Scoggin, who is still trying to adjust to the speed and size of the D1 game after coming over from Salt Lake City Community College in the offseason. She hit a pair of 3s, but took six shots to get her six points and didn’t register an assist.
And Nebraska has Whitney Brown, who has been a surprise plug-and-play freshman.
Issie Bourne, a sophomore forward, is playing out of position as a wing. Offensively, she’s looked best this year operating from the low block, but she got that opportunity only a handful of times against Creighton.
“Now, all of the sudden, you have Issie Bourne who’s playing 31 minutes tonight and probably about eight of those at her primary position,” Williams said. “It’s teaching us lessons. We don’t want to back down from the challenges and the adversity that comes our way and we want to be able to adjust.”
Bella Cravens, a junior forward, is guarding out of position and trying to occasionally stretch the floor, but you can see the discomfort.
“We’re not necessarily 100% polished right now,” Williams said, “but I do feel like the fact that we’re embracing it and saying ‘whatever comes our way we’re going to handle head-on’ is something that’s going to develop character.”
On the positive side, the Huskers will have a six-day break before their next game. Time to rest, and maybe time to get someone healthy. NU will travel to Bloomington for a Dec. 20 game against Indiana. Tip is set for 3 p.m. CT on BTN.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.