No. 8 UConn women rout No. 21 Creighton 72-47 with 7 players

Getty Images
0 Comments

OMAHA, Neb. – Aaliyah Edwards had 23 points and a season-high 20 rebounds, Dorka Juhasz had a season-high 22 points and a career-high 18 boards, and No. 8 UConn rode another fast start to a 72-47 victory over 21st-ranked Creighton on Wednesday night.

The Huskies (10-2, 3-0 Big East) were down to seven players because of health and travel issues, but they had no problem against a Bluejays team that turned in its worst offensive performance of the season.

It was the second time in three weeks UConn suited up only seven players. The Huskies also had seven for their 85-78 loss at Maryland.

The game in front of a sellout crowd at Sokol Arena got out of control early as Juhasz and Edwards dominated inside on both ends of the floor. Edwards topped 20 points for the fourth straight game.

Emma Ronsiek scored 12 points and Lauren Jensen had 11 to lead Creighton (9-5, 2-2), which shot a season-low 23.8%. The Bluejays were 3 of 28 on 3-pointers for 10.7%, their worst showing from distance since hitting 2 of 19 (10.5%) against Villanova on Feb. 25, 2018.

UConn capitalized on its height advantage with Creighton having no one over 6-foot-1.

The 6-5 Juhasz had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the first half for her third double-double of the season. She scored on a couple bank shots before threading a pass through the lane to Lou Lopez Senechal for an easy layup and 9-0 lead that prompted Creighton coach Jim Flanery to call a timeout.

Edwards’ three-point play and Carolina Ducharme’s jumper put the Huskies up 19-4 less than seven minutes into the game, and it was 35-16 after the Bluejays went scoreless over the final 5:52 of the half.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who stayed in the locker room for last year’s meeting in Omaha because he felt under the weather, was back on the bench after missing the Dec. 18 and Dec 21 games with a flu-like illness.

But starting forward Aubrey Griffin was not at the game after testing positive for COVID-19 while at home for the holidays in Ossining, New York, and reserve foreward Amari DeBerry couldn’t make it to Omaha because of travel problems from her hometown near Buffalo, New York.

The Huskies already knew they would be without scoring leader Azzi Fudd, who has missed five games with a right knee injury.

Caroline Ducharme made her third start of the season, in place of Griffin, and finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: Auriemma was worried at halftime that his team might run out of gas offensively in the second half. That certainly didn’t happen, and they went on to win for the first time in three true road games this season.

Creighton: The Bluejays don’t look anything like the team that reached the NCAA Elite Eight last season. They’ve lost three straight, all to ranked opponents, and four of five.

FAST STARTERS

The Huskies’ 21-10 lead after the first quarter increased their scoring advantage to 267-155 over the opening 10 minutes of games. UConn has led after the first quarter in six straight games and in 10 of 12 for the season.

UP NEXT

UConn hosts Marquette on Saturday, looking to run its record to 16-0 in the series with the Golden Eagles.

Creighton visits DePaul on Saturday for a nationally televised game on Fox.

Spencer, No. 21 Arkansas women edge No. 16 Creighton 83-75

Getty Images
0 Comments

OMAHA, Neb. – Samara Spencer scored 26 points, Saylor Poffenbarger had a double-double and No. 21 Arkansas beat No. 16 Creighton 83-75 on Saturday.

Rylee Langerman hit two 3-pointers as the Razorbacks drilled 3s on their last three possessions for a 9-0 run to take a 37-33 lead at the half. They never trailed again. Their largest lead was 11 midway through the fourth quarter. Poffenbarger’s 3 made it 75-65 with 3:08 left.

Six quick points got the Bluejays back in it with 2:29 to go but Arkansas sealed it from the foul line.

Poffenbarger had 16 points and 11 rebounds, making two of the late free throws and Erynn Barnum scored 15 for the Razorbacks (12-0). Makayla Daniels, who had 34 points in the matchup last year when Creighton won 81-72, had 14 after missing the previous three games.

Spencer, last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year, went 5 of 7 from 3-point range as the Razorbacks went 12 of 26 from 3-point range (46%). They shot 47% overall.

Morgan Maly scored 24 points for Creighton (8-2), going 12 of 12 from the foul line. Lauren Jensen and Emma Ronsiek added 13 each and Jayme Horan 11.

Creighton put up 35 3-pointers, making just eight (23%) and shot 35% overall. The Bluejays had a 46-36 rebound advantage, led by Carly Bacherlor with 11.

Heading into what could be three-straight games against ranked opponents for both teams, the Bluejays had beaten three ranked teams while Arkansas was facing its first ranked team.

Creighton goes to No. 2 Stanford on Tuesday and then hosts No. 9 UConn in a Big East game on Dec. 28. Arkansas goes to the San Diego Invitational, facing No. 16 Oregon on Tuesday and could meet No. 3 Ohio State on Wednesday.

Carr scores 19, No. 2 Texas beats No. 7 Creighton 72-67

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas had pressured Creighton’s shooters into a miserable night, only to watch a late flurry of 3-pointers start swishing.

An 11-point Longhorns lead was down to three.

That hardly rattled Marcus Carr and the second-ranked Longhorns, who stepped up with big late shots of their own and steady free-throw shooting to secure another impressive early-season victory, 72-67 over the seventh-ranked Bluejays on Thursday night.

Carr scored 19 points and made two free throws with 10 seconds left as Texas held off Creighton’s furious late-game rally.

Creighton struggled through a wretched 3-point shooting night, but pulled within 62-59 thanks in part to five points in a row by Baylor Scheierman. Carr’s baseline jumper and an easy layup by Tyrese Hunter when Creighton lost him on an inbound pass with 46 seconds left stretched the Longhorns’ lead again.

That didn’t quite close the door on Creighton, which got two more 3-pointers from Scheierman, who had missed his first nine attempts. That forced Texas to finish it from the free-throw line behind Carr and Brock Cunningham. Cunningham’s two free throws with 4 seconds left were his only points of the game.

“There’s going to be a bunch of times one of us has to go down there and knock down a bunch of free throws,” Carr said. “We talk about it all the time.”

The matchup was part of the Big 12-Big East Battle and Texas earned its second win over a top-10 opponent in its new arena. The Longhorns (6-0) beat then-No. 2 Gonzaga on Nov. 16 and have their highest ranking since they were No. 1 during the 2009-2010 season.

“I don’t think we’ve proven anything,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “We’re just a team that’s trying to get better.”

Hunter scored 15 points for Texas.

Ryan Kalkbrenner had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Creighton (6-2), and Ryan Nembhard scored 17 points. The Bluejays were 4 of 27 on 3-pointers.

Scheierman, a 44% shooter from beyond the arc this season, made three 3s in a row late. His off-balance shot from the right corner over a defender pulled the Bluejays within 68-65 with 11.4 seconds left.

Scheierman finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“The reality is you are gonna have nights,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It just happens. We don’t ever want him to stop shooting.”

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: Kalkbrenner was all but unstoppable on a 9-of-10 shooting night for the Bluejays, who kept launching from long range instead of looking for their 7-foot-1 center.

Texas: The Longhorns couldn’t force their usual numbers of turnovers and fast-break points, but were exceptionally clean with the ball on offense. Texas had just three turnovers that Creighton turned into three points.

FORMER TEAMMATES

Texas senior forward Christian Bishop played three seasons at Creighton before transferring prior to last season. He finished with six points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.

“We understood what this game was, not just for our team but for Christian,” Carr said.

TIRED TEAM

McDermott suggested his team maybe just wore out. The Bluejays went 2-1 in the Maui Invitational last week and then played their first game of the season on an opponent’s home court.

“Three games in three days against ranked teams (in Hawaii) and then to come in here,” McDermott said. “That’s a lot to ask of my team.”

UP NEXT

Creighton hosts in-state rival Nebraska on Sunday.

Texas plays No. 16 Illinois in New York City on Dec. 6 in the Jimmy V Classic.

Ballo, No. 14 Arizona beat No. 10 Creighton for Maui title

Getty Images
1 Comment

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Oumar Ballo dominated inside with 30 points and 13 rebounds for No. 14 Arizona, which held off No. 10 Creighton 81-79 on Wednesday to win the Maui Invitational for the third time.

The combination of the unstoppable 7-foot, 260-pound Ballo and his speedy, talented supporting cast was just enough for the Wildcats (6-0) to remain undefeated. Kerr Kriisa added 13 points and nine assists, Azuolas Tubelis had 12 points and Courtney Ramey scored 10. Arizona scored its final points with 2:21 to play but managed to hold on.

“I’m super proud of these guys,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “These tournaments are hard. To play three games in three days against three really good teams with very distinct styles and to come out of it on top the way we did, it says a lot about this group.”

Ryan Nembhard scored 20 points for Creighton (6-1), which was trying to beat a ranked opponent for the third straight day. Ryan Kalkbrenner added 16 points, Trey Alexander scored 15 and Baylor Scheierman had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Arizona appeared to be pulling away late, but the Bluejays kept hanging around.

Scheierman made a layup with 2:41 left to pull Creighton within 79-72 but Kriisa made a beautiful pass to Ballo for a dunk and an 81-72 lead with 2:21 left. He was fouled but missed the free throw.

Nembhard made a layup and Scheierman a 3-pointer to get Creighton within 81-77. Kalkbrenner made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to three. Ramey missed a 3-point attempt with 18 seconds left.

Creighton called timeout with 7.4 seconds left to set up a final play. Kalkbrenner didn’t have an open 3 and passed to Nembhard, who was fouled by Ramey with 2 seconds left. He made the first shot and intentionally missed the second, with Arizona rebounding to seal the win despite Creighton closing with a 12-2 run.

“I just kept looking at the score and the time and our timeouts. And I thought we had enough separation to kind of ride it out,” Lloyd said.

“But you’re just hoping for a miss. You hate to say that, you need to make `em miss. But one of those shots bounces off, you know, and we rebound it, you know, the game could have been over a little bit earlier. But they didn’t. They went in.

“I think we had one or two maybe poor decisions, but we’ll learn from that. We practice situations a lot. So a lot of the situations came up there and I felt comfortable not calling a timeout,” he added.

Ballo was strong from the start, tallying 16 points and nine rebounds in the first half to help the Wildcats to a 39-30 lead.

“We showed some grit in getting ourselves back in that,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “It felt like in the second half, every time we would get it to three or four, they’d stretch it back to nine or 10 and we just couldn’t quite crack the seal, so to speak, to get ’em where they were really, really nervous.

“And then we executed some stuff down the stretch pretty well to give ourselves a chance, you know, on the free-throw line there to cut it to two, and then ran a play where we thought we could get a good look at a 3 there to tie it, and obviously didn’t work.”

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays reached the title game by beating No. 21 Texas Tech in the opening round and stopping No. 9 Arkansas in the semifinals.

Arizona: The Wildcats also won the Maui Invitational in 2000 and 2014. Lloyd was part of two Maui titles as a Gonzaga assistant in 2009 and 2018.

UP NEXT

Creighton plays at No. 4 Texas on Dec. 1 as part of the Big 12-Big East Battle.

Arizona opens Pac-12 play at Utah on Dec. 1.

Nembhard’s 25 carry Creighton past Arkansas in Maui thriller

Getty Images
1 Comment

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Ryan Nembhard drove the lane for an authoritative dunk in the closing minutes and scored a career-high 25 points for No. 10 Creighton, which survived a tense second half to beat No. 9 Arkansas 90-87 on Tuesday and advance to the championship game of the Maui Invitational.

Trey Alexander made two free throws with 1.9 seconds left for Creighton, which will play for the title Wednesday against either No. 14 Arizona or No. 17 San Diego State.

The Bluejays (6-0) and Razorbacks (4-1) played an electrifying second half worthy of a March Madness matchup. Arkansas has reached the Elite Eight in consecutive seasons and Creighton got to the second round last year after advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2021.

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 21 points, Baylor Scheierman 20 and Alexander 12 for the Bluejays, who had a 12-point lead late in the first half.

Anthony Black scored 26 points, Ricky Council IV 24 and Trevon Brazile 17 for the Razorbacks.

There were 10 lead changes and the game was tied 10 times in the second half.

Nembhard made two free throws after the Arkansas bench was whistled for a technical foul with 13:57 to go for a 53-53 tie. Creighton was in the double bonus for the final 13 minutes.

Nembhard, the shortest player on the floor at 6 feet, drove for a dunk and a 79-76 lead with 2:34 to go. Brazile answered with a 3-pointer the next time down the floor to tie it at 79.

Kalkbrenner made a reverse jam with 1:20 left to give the Bluejays the lead for good at 83-81.

After Scheierman made two free throws for an 87-84 lead with 16 seconds left, Council missed a corner 3 and Nembhard rebounded and was fouled. He made one of two free throws and Black came down the floor and drained a straight-on 3 to pull Arkansas within one. Alexander then made his two insurance free throws.

Creighton ran to a 12-point lead with 1:43 to go in the first half before the Razorbacks closed with a 6-0 run, capped by Trevon Brazile’s thunderous dunk on an alley-oop pass from Anthony Black.

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays’ free-flowing offense produced three players in double digits by halftime: Nembhard with 13 points, Scheierman 11 and Kalkbrenner 10.

Arkansas: This was a big step up in competition for the Razorbacks. They opened the season with easy home wins against North Dakota State, Fordham and South Dakota State, and then beat winless Louisville by 26 points in their Maui opener.

UP NEXT

Creighton will face either the Wildcats or Aztecs in what should be another March Madness-worthy game for the title.

Arkansas will face the SDSU-Arizona loser for third place.

Strong 2nd half lifts No. 10 Bluejays past No. 21 Texas Tech

Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

LAHAINA, Hawaii – Creighton’s free-flowing offense was uncharacteristically choppy and sloppy for the first 20 minutes against Texas Tech.

The 10th-ranked Bluejays looked like their old selves after that, getting out to a quick lead in the second half and pulling away for a 76-65 win over the No. 21 Red Raiders in the opening game of the Maui Invitational on Monday.

“First time on the road with this team, maybe they were anxious and excited,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We certainly weren’t ourselves early in that game. We had as many turnovers in the first 20 possessions, I think, as we’ve had in four games. So once we settled in, I thought we were pretty good.”

The Bluejays (5-0) committed a season-high 13 turnovers, all in the first half, and then started rolling.

Arthur Kaluma scored 18 points to lead all five Creighton starters in double figures. Trey Alexander had 13 of his 17 points after the half and Ryan Nembhard finished with 16. Baylor Scheierman had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, who rolled his ankle late in the first half and aggravated it late in the second, had 10 points.

“Thank goodness Kalkbrenner was tough enough to play through a pretty good sprained ankle,” McDermott said, “because his presence at the rim and on the glass for us is so important.”

Daniel Batcho scored a career-high 17 points for the Red Raiders (3-1), who led by seven points early while Creighton struggled to adjust to their trademark in-your-face defense.

“You can prep all you want,” McDermott said, “but it’s so hard to simulate the physicality of their defense and the quickness of their rotations.”

Creighton outscored Texas Tech 23-12 coming out of the half to break open a 31-all game.

“The biggest difference was that first four minutes,” Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “They came out and just punched us in the mouth and I thought that was the difference. They came out with just a really aggressive mindset on both ends of the floor. It set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Alexander took Scheierman’s pass from the post and hit a 3-pointer from the wing to get the second half started. After Kaluma blocked a shot, Alexander passed to Nembhard for a lay-in. A minute later, Nembhard scored with his left hand from the right side of the basket, and Alexander followed with a three-point play.

Nembhard’s 3-pointer off the dribble gave the Bluejays their first double-digit lead, and Kaluma scored seven straight points for Creighton to make it 64-50 with seven minutes to play.

Pop Isaacs scored 13 points, De’Vion Harmon had 12 and Kevin Obanor added 10 for Texas Tech.

The Bluejays turned over the ball five times in their first six possessions, helping Texas Tech go up. They found some rhythm during a 13-2 run that put them in front, but another rash of turnovers kept them from building on it.

“Second half we really weren’t in the game,” Adams said. “But it goes back to their great shooting and their shot selection.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders allowed an average of 52.7 points over their first three games but gave up 45 in just the second half to Creighton. The game showed that Tech lacks the offensive firepower to match elite opponents if the defense isn’t on point.

Creighton: The Bluejays showed how good they can be in the second half. The concern is Kalkbrenner’s left ankle. He’s one of the best big men in the country and must be healthy for the Bluejays to have a chance of reaching their lofty goals.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech plays Tuesday against Louisville, an 80-54 loser to No. 9 Arkansas.

Creighton plays Tuesday against No. 9 Arkansas, an 80-54 winner of Louisville.