Hopefully the shooting tonight won't be as cold as the air outside, but with the Creighton Bluejays in town to visit the Red Storm, I somehow doubt it. I just hope ours is just a little bit better!
Aaaaand so much for that. At halftime, Creighton is up 39-21, with eight triples to their credit, including five in the first five minutes. They run beautiful screens and we look like we have seen neither a screen, nor a three-point arc, nor a rebound before in our collective lives.
I don't know what Aaliyah Lewis did, but she has not played in this one. She's in uniform and shooting around, but not yet active. Kyra Dunn is in street clothes. I like the jacket, but I am not feeling the plum-colored platform shoes, or the copious eyeshadow.
Stop shooting, Jade, or I am going to admire and respect you with a two-by-four. Danaejah, hold on to the ball, or it's two-by-four time for you.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand so much for that. That second half was, if at all possible, even more of a hot mess for St. John's than the first half, and I didn't even think that was possible. I don't leave games early- if nothing else, because of my little scorecards- but this is the kind of game I would not lambaste anyone for leaving early from. Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
Creighton played every active player on their roster. Their team was really excited when Tessa Leytem hit her three in the second half. Bailey Norby brought some size inside and out. Kylie Brown had a pretty little jumper in the second half and mixed it up well on the boards. Lauren Works, which is a really phenomenal last name, put in that work on the defensive end. Jade Owens played a lot of time off the bench and facilitated the offense. I like the way she moves on the floor and the way she handles her team. What do you mean she's only a freshman?
The only flaw I can detect in Marissa Janning is her fondness for the finger roll, even in situations where it isn't called for. She threw up three or four of them, and I think only one of them went in. But she's a solid player with a killer shot. She didn't take a lot of shots in the second half, and the ones she did take fell short, but then, her team didn't need her. MC McGrory hit a couple of shots near the end of the clock. Briana Rollerson was really impressive, setting screens in the first half and becoming more proactive offensively as the game went on. She's a big body, and when she's not afraid to use it, she adds a dangerous dimension to Creighton's offense. She boxed out well, too. Alexis Akin-Otiko set up her teammates in the first half with strong screens, then started going to the rack in the second half. She also threw her weight around. Sydney Lamberty is another great shooter in the long line of great Creighton shooters.
Creighton shoots threes. They're really good at it. Perhaps getting out around screens would be conducive to not allowing them to hit five threes before the first media timeout. But what do I know? I just buy the tickets. To be fair, Creighton does set a lot of good screens- but that just means you have to call them out!
Imani Littleton finally got into a game, after what felt like forever, and she looked rusty- not necessarily bad ideas, but a step slow on executing them. Crystal Simmons was first off the bench in the first half to relieve Tamesha Alexander, then resumed her normal place in the rotation in the second half. She looked like she'd lost some of her fear of shooting, and her shots went in, which is a blessed change from most of the times I've seen her this year. She still missed some easy ones, including her free throws ("¡Crystal, me matas!" I yelled once or twice. Having Spaniards on two of my teams has really encouraged me to practice.) Tonoia Wade hustled after rebounds, even if she wasn't always successful at getting them. She'll develop better positioning with time, one might hope. Aaliyah Lewis started the second half, but the change in speed between her and Sox was a non-factor in our death spiral in the second half. At least Joe actually punishes players for infractions, which is more than I can say for his men's counterpart.
Y U NO PUT KIMBERLY IN GAME, JOE?
The Creighton defense covered Aliyyah Handford and Danaejah Grant tightly, leaving Jade Walker with plenty of long outside shots. She decided that taking those long outside shots would be a brilliant plan. There's a reason the defense is giving you those shots, Jade. That is because they are bad shots. Her rebounding was sketchy most of the night, too. I was not a happy camper. I don't know what Danaejah's problem was holding on to the ball, but she kept losing her handle as if it were one of those jury-rigged tape handles the cashier puts together for you on a large electronics box. I have no idea how she committed only four turnovers. Amber Thompson has suddenly gotten very tentative on the boards. I don't know if it's just that she's worn down from the strain of the season, but she's not the rebounding force of nature she was early on, and that makes me sad. She showed a little bit of her senior leadership at the end of the first half, with the back to back three-point play opportunities- but then, being a Johnnie and being Amber, she missed the free throw both times, because that's how we roll at St. John's. By the end of that first half, she looked like she needed either a hug or a shot of vodka. Tamesha Alexander was capable in her first start, but looked lost on defense. I liked seeing her shoot more, though. I think that'll help her confidence. Aliyyah Handford was a non-factor most of the night, both because Creighton played her very tough and because that defense led to the rest of the St. John's players not giving her touches. When she did get touches, her shots were contested.
"YOU UTTER IMBECILE!" moment of the game: so Aliyyah has made two great offensive plays in a row and keyed a defensive play. There's a little life in the team. Maybe they can make a run the way they did at Seton Hall. This is, of course, when Joe decides it would be a brilliant time to sub out Aliyyah. I am not making this up. Two quick Creighton baskets and a turnover later, Aliyyah was back in the game.
The refs were bad tonight, but they were blatantly bad in our favor, so I'll take it and be grateful. Pretty sure Jade Walker should have fouled out. It's a bad sign when the crew's making game management calls in the first half.
It's been a long time since I've seen a team quit this badly in the middle of a game. Too many lapses on defense. Too many mental errors. Stupid things, like stepping on the baseline. How do screens even work, right? The only saving grace was that the freshmen showed life. But I'm not holding out much hope for this year.