No. 9 Creighton admittedly didn’t put its best foot forward in a lackluster season-opening victory before sprinting to a resounding win in its second game of the campaign.
The Bluejays (2-0) will bid for a repeat performance of their more recent contest on Monday when they host Holy Cross (1-1) in Omaha, Neb.
Creighton woke up midway through the second half before posting a 72-60 victory over St. Thomas-Minnesota on Nov. 7. The Bluejays answered the bell three days later by benefiting from a 27-3 run to coast to a 96-61 romp over North Dakota.
Ryan Kalkbrenner made 10 of 11 shots from the floor and finished with a career-high 24 points against the Fighting Hawks.
“We weren’t necessarily overlooking anybody, but I think there was just a little bit of wake-up call (in the opener),” said Kalkbrenner, who admittedly was under the weather for that contest.
“It was like, ‘Let’s just be locked in for this one to have a good game,’ because I don’t think any of us were really too happy with how we played.”
Trey Alexander made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for Creighton, which bounced back from an 8-for-34 performance from beyond the arc in the season opener. The Bluejays made 7 of 14 attempts from 3-point range in the first half on Thursday and finished at 44.4 percent (12 for 27) in the game.
“I knew we were a better shooting team than what we showed the other night, and I think you saw some snapshots of that (on Thursday),” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said.
South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman recorded 10 rebounds and Fredrick King had eight to help Creighton dominate on the boards. The Bluejays held a distinct 49-20 advantage in rebounds, including 21-2 in the offensive end.
The Bluejays’ up-tempo pace also paid dividends on Thursday.
“That’s why we play the way we play,” McDermott said. “Most games, TV timeout to TV timeout, one team wins by two, the other team wins by two, you tie. But who can put on that 12-2 run? Or the 10-0 run that can change the complexion of the game. We hope our pace will eventually wear into people.”
Like Creighton, Holy Cross also shook off the effects of a sluggish season opener to provide a more complete effort in its second game.
Freshman Will Batchelder drilled six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points in the Crusaders’ 85-71 win over Division III representative Dean on Thursday. Batchelder was limited to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor in Holy Cross’ 75-68 setback to Siena in the season opener.
Gerrale Gates followed up 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocks versus the Saints with 18, eight and three, respectively, on Thursday.
“A win’s a win, we’ll take them all,” Crusaders coach Brett Nelson said. “I thought the first half obviously started off a little slow and Will was able to make some shots to kind of break it open in the second half. We had to grind it out, sometimes you have to do that.”
–Field Level Media