Creighton coach Jim Flanery is trying to solve a puzzle, and he hopes he made some progress during the Bluejays’ season opener with South Dakota.

But Creighton let a fast start get away and gave up 11 unanswered points to start the second quarter as the Bluejays fell 77-65 at Sokol Arena.

Audrey Faber scored 27 points and Jaylyn Agnew added 14 more for Creighton, but South Dakota countered with four players in double figures, led by Harlan grad Taylor Frederick’s 26 points. The nine other Bluejays who played combined for 24 points.

Flanery said he has a lot of talent spread throughout the roster and it’s his job to figure out how to use it.

“We’re going to be fine, but I did feel like we’ve got a lot of pieces that are pretty even, and maybe I’m struggling to figure out who can do what,” Flanery said. “We’ve got to figure out how to play around them.”

The Jays opened a 13-6 lead on a Morgan Turner jumper with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter. But the Coyotes stormed back with a 13-3 run and led 22-21 at the end of the period.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Flanery said of South Dakota, which went 14-0 in the Summit League last season and ousted the Jays in the opening rounds of the 2015 and 2016 WNITs. “I felt like we kind of wasted our hot start because we gave up a few 3s that we didn’t need to give up in that first quarter, and they got confident and we weren’t confident.

“I’d have liked to see us play a little better defense early.”

Faber also said the Jays weren’t able to match the Coyotes’ physical style. South Dakota forced 14 turnovers while committing seven.

“They were really physical with all of us, chasing over screens, making and setting screens and reading screens hard,” Faber said. “I think that kind of threw us off a little bit because we were rushing a little.

“But we just didn’t make the adjustments we needed to, and we weren’t physical enough back.”

By scoring the first 11 points of the second quarter, South Dakota opened a 33-21 advantage. The Jays missed seven straight shots during that time.

After a pair of Temi Carda free throws helped the Jays close to 34-30, South Dakota scored the last six of the half to take a 40-30 cushion. Flanery said he sensed his team was beginning to get tired in the second quarter and changed strategy, but it didn’t work.

“We tried to go a little bit more structure, and we did a poor job of executing,” Flanery said. “We ran the wrong stuff about three straight times there at the end of the second quarter.

“When it’s time to execute, we need to be better than we were.”

CU goes to North Dakota State on Friday. The Bison won their opener 49-43 over Mayville State.

South Dakota (1-0)..........22 18 14 23—77

At Creighton (0-1).............21 9 11 24—65

USD: Allison Arens 4-10 1-1 11, Taylor Frederick 9-12 5-8 26, Ciara Duffy 3-7 0-0 6, Chloe Lamb 3-9 2-2 10, Madison McKeever 4-6 1-2 10, Liv Korngable 1-1 0-0 3, Monica Arens 2-6 2-2 8, Megan Bonar 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Sjerven 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 27-55 12-17 77.

CU: Jaylyn Agnew 5-12 0-0 14, Ali Greene 0-1 0-0 0, Audrey Faber 8-17 7-8 27, Jade Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Kissinger 0-2 0-0 0, Tatum Rembao 1-4 0-0 2, Temi Carda 1-5 2-2 5, Rachael Saunders 1-1 2-2 5, Morgan Turner 1-3 0-0 2, Chloe Dworak 2-2 0-0 6, Payton Brotzki 1-5 2-2 4. Totals 20-52 13-14 65.

3-point goals: USD 11-24 (Frederick 3-4, A.Arens 2-2, M.Arens 2-5, Lamb 2-7, Korngable 1-1, McKeever 1-2, Duffy 0-2, Sjerven 0-1). CU 12-30 (Faber 4-7, Agnew 4-10, Dworak 2-2, Saunders 1-1, Carda 1-4, Turner 0-1, Kissinger 0-1, Rembao 0-1, Brotzki 0-3). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: USD 30 (M.Arens 6), CU 32 (Faber 7). Assists: USD 12 (A. Arens 4), CU 14 (Agnew 4). Total fouls: USD 16, CU 19. Turnovers: USD 7, CU 14. A: 1,006.

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