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Creighton owns the paint to clinch third straight win over Huskers

December 4, 2018

Creighton’s ball-handlers figured they’d be able to dribble into the middle of Nebraska’s extended defense Sunday. It was what they did once they got there that would determine the game’s outcome.

And at least in the second half, the Bluejays made all the right decisions.

CU erased a one-point deficit with a 13-0 run early in the third quarter and managed to withstand the Huskers’ frenetic surge late, clinching a 74-65 victory at Sokol Arena. Creighton has now won three straight against NU.

“Our movement was really good,” CU senior Audrey Faber said. “I think we just made strong plays. People made drives, strong passes. I think we were just finding the right people. And it was a balanced attack.”

The Jays (2-4) shot 55.6 percent from the floor after the break Sunday. They had 10 assists on their 15 baskets.

Faber, who finished with 18 points, created scoring chances off the dribble and in the post. Sophomore Tatum Rembao had 18 points and six assists — both career highs — largely because she routinely found a way to navigate into the paint. And she made plays from there.

It was Rembao’s back-to-back layups that stretched Creighton’s lead to 60-47 with six minutes left to force a Nebraska timeout.

“One of our emphases was to get into the paint because we knew they were going to collapse on us, and then we’d have wide open shots on the perimeter,” Rembao said. “I just tried to do my best to get in there.”

Nebraska (2-5) had trouble keeping pace.

The Huskers were limited by foul trouble — junior Hannah Whitish sat early with two fouls while senior Maddie Simon and sophomore Taylor Kissinger got their fourths in the third. Poor long-range shooting — NU went 2 of 22 from 3-point range — allowed CU’s smaller lineup to more aggressively commit to collapsing inside.

“I thought we were a little out of rhythm,” NU coach Amy Williams said. “When they go small and you try to match up with them to be able to defend and get defensive stops, it maybe pulled us a little bit out of an offensive rhythm.”

One scoring drought in the second half was particularly costly.

After jumping ahead 30-27 on the first possession after halftime, the Huskers went the next 4:30 without a point. By the time freshman Sam Haiby, who finished with a team-high 17, converted a bucket inside, CU had a double-digit lead.

The Jays seemed to be in control after that — until the end.

They committed two turnovers and went 3 of 6 from the foul line, allowing Nebraska to twice trim the deficit to five in the final 30 seconds. But Rembao and freshman Rachael Saunders both made two free throws to ice it, snapping Creighton’s three-game losing streak.

“We needed a win,” CU coach Jim Flanery said.

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