The Creighton women’s basketball team sat in the locker room at halftime of a late November game against Brigham Young and had every reason to be worried.
The Bluejays already had lost two of their first four games and were on the brink of being blown out of their fifth. Brigham Young led by 16 points. Creighton had made just 29 percent of its shots, including sinking just 1 of 9 3-point attempts.
“At halftime, I don’t think anyone honestly thought we had a chance of winning that game,” Creighton forward Sarah Nelson said.
But win it they did, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the final 7:13 to force overtime before finishing with a 65-62 win. The Bluejays haven’t lost since, adding five wins, including a pair over power-conference teams Nebraska and South Florida.
That leaves Creighton 8-2 heading into Sunday’s game at Minnesota. The Bluejays’ unofficial RPI stands in the 20s, depending on which source one uses. They are building steam for next month’s start of Missouri Valley play.
Yet, they realize how different things might be had they not made the abrupt change of course in the final 25 minutes against BYU.
“We’re confident, but it’s odd how quickly that can come or go,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “I look back on that second half of the BYU game and wonder if we hadn’t done that, would we have been able to beat Nebraska in our next game?
“If we hadn’t beaten Nebraska, would we be playing at the level we’ve played at the last four games? We understand just how fragile this is. It came pretty quickly, and we certainly hope it doesn’t leave as quickly.”
The Bluejays learned a lot about themselves in that final 25 minutes against Brigham Young. They’ve been able to carry over some of those lessons in subsequent games.
“We went into the BYU game knowing they were a good team but we definitely felt that we were going to win,” Creighton guard Carli Tritz said. “That first half was so weird. We were flat. We weren’t following the scouting report. We were playing like chickens with our heads cut off.
“It was a punch in the gut, we took it and we fought back. If we don’t win that game, I don’t know if we go on the run that we do and if we have the turnaround that we did. Things started coming together, and we started playing better. We grew a lot from that game.”
Flanery knows there is still plenty of room for growth, but he likes the way his team is playing in late December. The Bluejays have learned that freshman Marissa Janning can be a go-to player. Tritz has overcome some early-season struggles caused by a balky knee and back. Nelson has shown she can impact a game in a variety of ways.
“If you had asked me at halftime of that BYU game if we’d be 8-2, I would have said, ‘Have you been watching us play?’ ” Flanery said. “We already had two losses and we’re getting blown out.
“Sometimes it takes a while to figure some things out.”