The Creighton and Nebraska women’s basketball teams have a lot of history, most of which stems from Nebraska coach Connie Yori, who has a 30-year history with the rival team.
“We’re kind of hoping they’d cancel the game,” Yori said. “I know the fans don’t want that. I’m kidding, of course.”
Yori graduated from Creighton in 1986 as the third all-time scorer with 2,010 points in her college career. After coaching the Bluejays from 1992-2002, Yori switched to Nebraska, and her assistant at Creighton, Jim Flanery, became the head coach. Since then, Yori has had a 222-137 record, while Flanery has had a 219-141 record.
Now the two must face each other again. Nebraska and Creighton will go head-to-head Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in the annual rival game.
In the 2012-13 game against Creighton, the Huskers picked up their third loss of the season against the Bluejays with a final score of 57-66. Junior forward Hailie Sample led the Huskers in scoring with a career high 20 points during the game. The Bluejays, however, outscored Nebraska from the arc, making 9 of 22 3-pointers.
So far in the season, Creighton has a 4-4 record, with losses against Kansas, Oklahoma, BYU and Drake. In the game against Kansas, Creighton made 66 points, but still lost to the back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 team. Nebraska currently has a 7-2 record, with losses to Washington State and North Carolina. North Carolina is currently No. 15 in the NCAA and took the win against Nebraska on its home court on Dec. 4.
“It’s always a tough one to play,” Yori said. “Creighton’s really good. They have a really good basketball team. They play really good competition. We lost to them for the first time last year in eight years, and I think that gets the players’ attention, not that we didn’t have it before.”
Although Creighton hasn’t been able to hit more than 70 points in a game so far this season, sophomore guard Marissa Janning is leading the team in scoring with an average of 17.4 points per game. Janning, along with senior guard McKenzie Fujan and senior forward Sarah Nelson, have combined so far this season to make 65 percent of Creighton’s game points.
Coming off the bench for Creighton is redshirt freshman Brianna Rollerson, who has averaged 4.4 rebounds per game in her first season on the team. Even with her contributions on the boards, the Bluejays have still been outrebounded by about three each game this year.
According to Nebraska senior forward Jordan Hooper, the Bluejays work hard at doing the “little things” well in their games, and that’s what the Huskers must watch out for.
“I think it will be a fun game,” said Hooper, who made 33 points in Sunday’s game against Utah State. “We’re going to be preparing throughout the whole week. It’ll be fun and exciting. Last year definitely wasn’t fun at all. But it’s the game that everybody looks forward to. They look forward to it, we look forward to it, our coaches definitely look forward to it. We’re going to bring that into the game.”
Hooper has led Nebraska in rebounds and scoring so far this season with 21.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. As of the Utah State game, she reached 1,800 points and 900 rebounds in her career — the third player in Nebraska history to do so.
Junior forward Emily Cady is second in scoring and rebounding behind Hooper. Cady has a .614 field goal percentage, which ranks second in the Big Ten. Sophomore point guard Rachel Theriot is leading Nebraska in assists with 5.9 per game.
According to Yori, the bench production at the beginning of the season was a concern. She was pleased after the Utah State match-up, however, because it was able to produce 21 points for the game.
After the Nebraska-Creighton rivalry, Nebraska will stay at home for the third game in a row as they prepare for the game against South Dakota Dec. 21.