Back-to-back wins by virtually the same score were polar opposites as far as Bonnie Henrickson is concerned.
“Looking at the box score will give you the numbers,” Kansas University’s women’s basketball coach said, “but what really matters is playing within the system.”
Thus last Sunday’s 81-54 freelancing frolic over Northern Colorado, a performance that drew Henrickson’s ire, bore scant resemblance to Thursday’s 81-53 team-oriented and coach-blessed triumph over UMKC.
Now, with Creighton in town, Henrickson is hoping for carryover, and then some.
“We’ve got to be much better against Creighton,” she said, “because they’re very, very good.”
Creighton (5-2) is coming off a 69-56 loss to unbeaten Nebraska last Wednesday at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb., and the score is deceptive because NU outscored the Jays, 11-1, down the stretch.
“That was a one-possession dogfight until late,” Henrickson said, “so we’ll have to be dialed in.”
Creighton features a veteran team led by 5-foot-11 senior Megan Neuvirth, who burned the Cornhuskers for 25 points and a dozen rebounds. The Jays’ starting lineup is composed primarily of players who were on the floor last year when KU toppled them twice.
Kansas won, 59-58, in an overtime thriller last December in Omaha, Neb., then posted a 79-64 triumph in a late March WNIT contest in Allen Fieldhouse. In that game, Danielle McCray, Sade Morris and Aishah Sutherland combined for 61 of the Jayhawks’ 79 points with 25, 21 and 15, respectively.
Henrickson compared Creighton to the UCLA team Kansas edged 54-49 a week and a half ago.
“Xavier is the best team we’ve faced,” Henrickson said, “and UCLA and Creighton are tied for second.”
Creighton pretty much lives or dies with the three-point basket. The Jays are averaging more than 25 treys a game, launching a season-high 41 in a road win at Cal-Davis.
At the same time, Henrickson expects the Jays to work hard on defense in order to try to negate KU’s 1-2 inside punch of Krysten Boogaard and Sutherland.
“They’re going to force Krysten and Aishah to the perimeter,” Henrickson said. “That will be our biggest challenge.”
Ranked No. 23 nationally, Kansas (6-2) has won three straight since dropping games to Xavier and TCU in the Bahamas. The Jayhawks will take all next week off for finals, then resume a week from today against Cal-Riverside.