With so many key injuries this season, Creighton coach Jim Flanery said he’s been a little leery about pushing his team too hard in practice for fear of getting other players hurt.
That philosophy may change after Flanery watched his team suffer its second straight double-digit home loss Saturday.
The Bluejays were outplayed in almost every key statistical category by Providence as the Friars posted a 77-63 win in front of 816 fans at D.J. Sokol Arena.
The Bluejays lost the turnover battle 20-5 with the Friars tallying 11 steals to none for Creighton. Providence converted those Bluejays miscues into 24 points.
Creighton turned the ball over 18 times in a 75-43 home loss to Butler last weekend.
Flanery said his players need to step up their effort level, and that conditioning may begin with the team’s next practice Monday.
“You’re in late January. You don’t want to get fatigued, but there’s no question we need some toughness practices, and Monday will be one,” Flanery said.
“I’ve struggled with that internally whether to be just a little bit harder on them in practice. But now that it’s happened two games in a row, it seems pretty clear we need to go a little hard in terms of those effort-type plays.”
Sign up for World-Herald daily sports updates
Get the headlines from Creighton, Nebraska, UNO, high schools and other area teams.
The Bluejays (10-10 overall, 4-5 Big East) led 22-17 after the first quarter as they hit five 3-pointers, including two by freshman Payton Brotzki, but Providence took a 38-37 advantage into halftime .
Providence (13-8, 5-4) began the second half with a 15-3 run to build a 53-40 lead and ended the quarter up 55-48 after Creighton sank just 3 of 13 shots from the field in the period.
“The way we started the third quarter was really bad,” Flanery said. “We came out and didn’t execute, didn’t find shooters, and we got lucky. They missed some shots. I think the tougher team won. We didn’t fight the way we needed to, and they fought like a team that wanted to win just a little bit more.”
Audrey Faber led the Bluejays with 16 points and Temi Carda added 15 as Creighton shot 44.2 percent from the floor. Jaylyn Agnew, the team’s second-leading scorer this season, added nine points but was 3 of 10 on 3-pointers and 3 of 12 overall.
Jovana Nogic scored 18 for Providence, which shot 50 percent from the field.
Earlette Scott added 12, providing a boost for the Friars as she entered the contest having scored 50 points in 20 games (2.5 ppg) this season.
The Friars outscored the Jays 39-26 in the second half.
Providence coach Jim Crowley said the key to the Friars’ success after the first quarter was ramping up their intensity on defense.
“I really felt we could increase our defensive energy. We thought their pace offensively was better than our defensive pace. So I thought in the second quarter we started to do that,” Crowley said.
“While they still hit 3s, we were making them hit those 3s later in the clock, and I thought that paid off as the game went on.”
Creighton falls to sixth in the Big East. The Jays will hit the road for games next weekend at Georgetown and Villanova, teams right behind Creighton in the standings.