The Jays were reassessing their strategy as they faced a seven-point halftime deficit against a ranked team Wednesday when sophomore Temi Carda glanced around the locker room.
Three potential starters were in street clothes. A fourth, Olivia Elger, was suited up but still working her way back to 100 percent. Star Audrey Faber was getting blanketed by a defense that refused to let the talented scorer get loose.
Somebody had to step up, Carda thought.
That’s the mentality the Jays’ coaches hope to see from all of their youngsters this month.
Sure, it’s assumed Creighton will get healthy at some point. But until then, players like Carda are being asked to operate outside their comfort zone and play a bit more boldly.
“My outlook on the rest of the game (Wednesday) was just to do whatever I could to put our team in a better position,” said Carda, who scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half of a loss to No. 24 Drake. “Yeah, some of my baskets went down. But once that happened, it opens up other players. I’m able to drive and get them shots, too.”
She’ll try to carry that same approach into Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against rival Nebraska.
The Jays (1-4) could certainly use a win. They played close with Drake for three quarters before falling off late. They’ve now lost three in a row after beginning the season with the goal of making a third straight NCAA tournament.
“If you look at the 1-4 start, it’s obviously not what we wanted,” Carda said. “But if you compare how we were playing last week to how we played (against Drake), it was a big jump. And it’s a learning experience to know what we can do in the future.”
Nebraska (2-4) is hoping to see similar signs of improvement.
The Huskers, coming off an NCAA berth last year, were receiving votes in the AP top 25 preseason poll. They returned their top five scorers and added a talented recruiting class.
But they’ve been challenged by a difficult slate early on.
The Huskers couldn’t slow down Drake’s high-octane attack down the stretch. They dropped a double overtime game to Washington State. They weren’t able to keep up with Miami. They turned the ball over too many times against Louisville.
NU ranks 306th in scoring defense (73.3) and opponents are shooting 40.7 percent from the floor (225th).
“We talked before (Louisville) game that we’re going to continue to fight and we don’t back down,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said on the Husker Sports Network this week. “We just don’t back down. And we want to really instill that in our team.”