Published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 AT 5:54 PM / Updated at 8:37 PM
Women’s basketball: Top teams don’t frighten Jays
Jack Haley Omaha World-Herald

A loss to open the season wasn’t what the Creighton women’s basketball team had hoped for.

However, the experience of playing a nationally ranked foe like Oklahoma is something that players and coaches believe will help them as the season progresses.

“It sets a bar for us so we know what we have to achieve to get to that level too,” junior forward Sarah Nelson said. “It’s a good experience for us and it helps (coach Jim Flanery) pick out our strengths and weaknesses as a team.”

The Jays lost to the 11th-ranked Sooners 69-48, but Flanery liked the way his team competed, especially against one of the nation’s elite programs.

“We played better than the score indicated,” Flanery said. “To some degree, we didn’t make shots. There were a lot of other things we could have done, but had we buried some shots, I think the game would have been more competitive.”

Flanery and the women’s team have brought two of the nation’s top women’s programs to Sokol Auditorium in the past two years.

“It tests us and allows us to compare ourselves to top-ranked teams. It definitely gets our confidence up,” senior guard Jasmin Corbin said.

Notre Dame and All-American Skylar Diggins also came to town last season. The Irish walked away with a 76-48 win, but they were willing to play a mid-major foe on the road, which speaks volumes to Flanery.

“I think it’s neat that that’s more of a trend on the men’s side,” Flanery said. “A lot of coaches have the mindset that they want to help grow the game and I think certain people understand that. That’s a credit to Notre Dame and Oklahoma specifically that they’re willing to do that.”

The Jays have since gotten the taste of loss out of their mouths. They defeated South Dakota State 63-54 Wednesday and are set to take on South Dakota at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The non-conference road from here on out doesn’t get any easier for the Jays as they are set to take on 23rd-ranked Nebraska and 22nd-ranked Kansas in the next two weeks.

This is a great opportunity, Flanery said, to get his team even more experience against some bigger conference foes.

These are the kinds of foes that Creighton would see in the NCAA tournament, where the Jays are looking to make a second consecutive appearance.

Flanery is excited about the tough stretch coming up, but knows that his team will need to play better than they did in the opening game.

“We want to be more competitive than we are when we play the bigger named opponents,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll relax and be able to do that. Every coach is going to say we’ve got to get better, because our schedule is still very difficult going forward.”

About Jack Haley

Jack covers Creighton sports for The World-Herald as part of the Sports Reporting Fellowship program. He is a junior at Creighton University and a 2010 graduate of Omaha Roncalli. He can be reached at jacobhaley@creighton.edu or 402-709-6350.