Creighton’s lead kept dwindling away as the turnovers piled up and the momentum began to shift.
But the Jays insist that they never lost their poise.
They knew it wasn’t going to be easy, anyway. Not against the Big East’s best team.
CU’s 20-point first-half advantage got trimmed down to five in the final seconds, but Creighton held on for the 71-65 upset over No. 13 Marquette on Friday night at Sokol Arena. It’s the first win over a top-15 team in program history. The Jays were previously 0-18.
“We had to dig in when it got tough, when it got close there at the end,” junior Jaylyn Agnew said. “And we did.”
They certainly had to work for it late.
Marquette (23-6, 14-3) made 10 of its last 13 shots in the game’s final six minutes.
It twice had the ball trailing by eight points around the 1-minute mark.
But CU senior Jade Owens stripped the ball away from senior Natisha Hiedeman with 40 seconds left, and the Jays did enough from there to hang on for the win.
“We did a really good job this game (with) team huddles and staying together,” said senior Audrey Faber, who led the Jays with 24 points. “It was talking things over. What works. What doesn’t work. Just listening. We were all bought in and so determined to win.”
That was especially evident early.
Creighton wrapped a 20-0 run around the end of the first quarter and the start of the second. The Jays held Marquette to 0-of-8 shooting and forced five turnovers during that stretch — the defensive stops prevented their aggressive opponent from setting up its full-court press and establishing its preferred high-tempo style.
CU settled into a groove as a result, opening the game 12 of 18 from the floor.
“We didn’t play hard enough (early),” Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger said. “It was just way too easy. We didn’t disrupt the pass, get tips or deflections, make them uncomfortable. They were just running their offense and getting every look that they wanted.”
The Golden Eagles weren’t at full strength, though.
It was announced last week that senior Erika Davenport is done for the year. Second-leading scorer Allazia Blockton had foul trouble all night. Third-leading scorer Danielle King had to be carried off the floor after landing awkwardly early in the fourth quarter.
Marquette did eventually increase its intensity. It picked up 18 offensive rebounds, the most by a CU opponent all year. The Jays committed a season-high 21 turnovers — and 16 of those came after halftime.
But they avoided a collapse.
And once it was over, the Creighton players celebrated what they hope will be a victory that sparks a memorable postseason run. They yelled together as they huddled on the court. Then they doused coach Jim Flanery with water in the locker room.
CU appears to be as close to full strength as it’s been all year during this injury-plagued season. It has now won four of its last five games.
“We have a chance to be as good as anybody at the end of the year, I think,” Flanery said.
Marquette (23-6, 14-3)...................13 14 15 23—65
At Creighton (14-14, 8-9)...............26 14 15 16—71
MU: King 3-13 1-2 8, Hiedeman 9-23 1-2 22, Blockton 0-4 0-0 0, Wilborn 7-17 4-6 21, Lott 1-4 2-2 4, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Spingola 0-0 0-0 0, Kleunen 3-5 0-0 6, Marotta 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 25-69 8-12 65.
CU: Owens 2-4 0-0 4, Carda 4-10 1-1 11, Agnew 4-10 6-7 15, Elger 0-4 0-0 0, Faber 8-13 6-6 24, Rembao 2-4 4-6 8, Saunders 2-4 1-3 6, Kissinger 1-1 0-0 3, Brotzki 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 23-51 18-23 71.
3-point field goals: MU 7-21 (King 1-4 Hiedeman 3-10, Wilborn 3-6, Lott 0-1), CU 7-21 (Owens 0-1, Carda 2-5, Agnew 1-6, Elger 0-2, Faber 2-3, Saunders 1-2, Kissinger 1-1, Brotzki 0-1).
Rebounds: MU 40 (King 10), CU 36 (Faber 7). Assists: MU 16 (Hiedeman 5), CU 21 (Carda 6).
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