Junior Sarah Nelsondropped 23 points to lead the Creighton women’s basketball team to a 53-49 win at South Dakota.
The win lifted the Jays to 2-1 on the season, while South Dakota fell to 1-3.
Creighton did not trail in the win as Nelson got going from the opening possession. The Jays found the Omaha native on the left block, allowing her to fake right and draw a shooting foul to her left. Nelson hit 1-of-2 from the line, then connected on a five-footer off the glass on the following possession to make it 3-0. Following a South Dakota bucket, Nelson added two more free throws and junior Carli Tritz drilled a 12-footer to push the lead to 7-2.
Holding a 12-7 edge at the 12-minute mark, the Jays used an 8-0 run to grab their largest lead of the game 13 points at 20-7 with 8:01 left in the half. Senior Ally Jensen connected for her 154th career three to ignite the run, then junior Alyssa Kamphaus added a bank shot from the right and freshman Marissa Janning capped it with her first three-pointer as a Jay.
Playing their home opener, the Coyotes rallied to pull within two points at 23-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the opening period. Polly Harrington led the South Dakota charge with 12 of her team-high 23 points over a stretch of four minutes.
Creighton weathered the South Dakota run, closing the half with an 8-2 burst of its own to take a 31-23 into the half.
Both teams came out hot in the second period, trading buckets on the first six possessions. Nelson pushed the Jays’ lead back to nine at 42-33 on a layup with 13:39 to go. South Dakota mounted a second surge over the ensuing three minutes to make it a one possession game at 42-39 with 9:09 remaining. The Coyotes, however, missed a chance to pull even as Nicole Seekamp’s trey bounced off the front of the iron with 8:06 on the clock.
Creighton took advantage of the behind a traditional three-point play from Nelson to extend its lead to six, then Tritz cut to the basket for a driving layup to make it 47-39. The Jays wound down the final five minutes without a significant threat from the Coyotes.
A last second heave by Harrington pulled South Dakota within four as the buzzer sounded.
Nelson’s 23 points led the Jays, while Tritz and Janning each finished with eight points.
The early three-pointer by A. Jensen, moved her into a tie for eighth place in Creighton history with Ally Thrall at 154 treys.
Creighton was tenacious defensively for the second straight contest as the Jays forced South Dakota into 25 turnovers.
The Bluejays are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 25 as Creighton hosts No. 22 Kansas at 2 p.m.