Creighton didn’t follow its preferred formula, yet the Bluejays had a chance at the end to upset the nation’s No. 16 team.
Perhaps that’s why the final moments Sunday were so agonizing.
The buzzer sounded and Creighton’s point guard dropped her head in frustration. Temi Carda’s teammates rushed over to encourage her, and felt a similar pain over the Bluejays’ costly miscues.
It’s just that Carda’s turnover was the final mistake of the day.
Creighton trailed 72-71 with six seconds remaining when the playmaker, who’d been keeping CU in the game with her creative drives and strong finishes, lost control of the ball while darting toward the rim. Two free throws sealed the 74-71 win for DePaul (13-2, 3-0), and the Jays were left to brood over how close they came.
“It requires everything you have that day, both mentally and physically (to play DePaul),” said Carda, who scored a team-high 24 points. “I just know our team put in a lot of work.”
Creighton (11-4, 3-1) trailed most of the way against a team whose only losses are against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 3 Oregon State. But Creighton kept pace with DePaul, never falling behind by more than six points.
A 6-0 spurt to begin the fourth quarter gave the Jays a 63-60 lead and forced a Blue Demon timeout. The momentum swung back and forth from there.
With the game tied 71-71, DePaul’s Chante Stonewall got fouled on a post move to the basket with 6.4 seconds left. The 6-foot-1 senior, who finished with 26 points, missed the first free throw but made the second to give her team the lead for good.
DePaul coach Doug Bruno wasn’t comfortable until that moment.
“It felt like from the sideline that they had their way with us the entire second half, but we had a couple key stops,” Bruno said.
The Jays ended up scoring four points — all at the foul line — over the final four minutes. They turned the ball over three times and missed two shots.
But given the way the game unfolded, they wouldn’t have expected to be within striking distance late.
Creighton too often did what you can’t do against DePaul — it regularly fumbled away the ball against the press (16 turnovers) and surrendered too many second-chance opportunities (16 offensive rebounds) to an already potent collection of scorers.
The first thing coach Jim Flanery said he mentioned to his team Saturday during game prep was DePaul’s possession advantage. The Blue Demons take an average of 17 more shots per outing than their opponents.
Creighton made 48.1% of its field goals Sunday. DePaul shot 17 more times.
Still, CU was in position to win. And the Jays were disappointed they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
“Winning or losing shouldn’t obscure the fact that we were right there, and it shouldn’t obscure the fact that we still have some work to do,” Flanery said. “A lot of bright spots, but it hurts.”
Senior Jaylyn Agnew finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four assists.
The loss was CU’s first defeat at Sokol Arena this season.