Creighton advances to semifinals with win over Butler

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ROSEMONT, Ill. – Creighton forward Marissa Janning was voted Big East player of the year, but it was forward Sarah Nelson who had the leading performance against Butler.

Nelson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to overcome a poor shooting performance by Creighton as the Blue Jays knocked off Butler Sunday, 61-52. Creighton will face St. John’s Monday at 3 p.m. in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

“Sarah’s will was really good,” Creighton head coach Jim Flanery said. “She was a little over the top hyped on senior night against them and didn’t perform at the level she was capable of. Her leadership in the first half was a huge.

“I thought the grind it out nature of the first contributed to the result of the game,” Flanery said.

Both teams struggled to score in the first half. Creighton shot just 23.5 percent (8-34) and Butler managed a slightly better 36.4 percent (8-22).

Janning was held scoreless in the first half and picked up three fouls in the process. Creighton (20-12) took the lead as the teams went into the half off a buzzer beating lay up by guard Mc McGrory. The Blue Jays led 21-20 at halftime.

McGrory got going after that basket. In the second half, she scored 10 of her 12 points.

“(The basket) gave us a lot of motivation going into the half,” Janning said. “It gave her a lot of confidence. As teammates we were there to build her up even more. Coming into the second half, she was ready to go and ready to win.” 

The Blue Jays opened the second half on a 14-4 run, forcing Butler’s head coach Beth Couture to call a timeout.  Nelson scored six points during the five-minute stretch.

Janning scored her first two points off a pair of free throws to give Creighton a 41-30 lead. Janning finished the night with 10 points and went 3-9 on the day.

Butler could get no closer to five in the final seven minutes despite 25 points from Daress McClung.

“My teammates were getting me good looks,” McClung said. “I wish we would have had a little bit more as a team. At the end of the day, Creighton was just a better defensive team.”

Butler shot 42 percent (21-50) from the field, but only 25 percent from downtown (3-12). Creighton finished shooting 34 percent (20-58).  Creighton’s bench outscored the Bulldogs, 20-6.

This was both teams first Big East tournament. Butler moved from the Atlantic Ten and Creighton came in the conference from the Missouri Valley.

“We feel really good about being in the Big East,” Couture said. “It’s a different league than I’ve been in because there’s no set style of play, everyone plays differently. Now we just have to get better.”