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Strong second half helps Creighton to 20th win

The SportsXchange

OMAHA, Neb. -- On a day when nearly everyone at CenturyLink Center Omaha wore pink to raise money for a cancer cure, the man for Creighton who always wears pink, Gregory Echenique, was the one who sparked the Bluejays' 75-58 victory over the Bradley Braves.

Echenique, who always dawns pink shoes, charged Creighton's early run in the second half with two baskets that allowed the Jays to retake the lead, and they never looked back as they notched their 20th win of the season.

Echenique finished with 10 points (making all four field goals) to complement Doug McDermott, who scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half as Creighton (20-3, 9-2 MVC) flipped a five-point deficit into a blowout in the final nine minutes.

"We adjusted at half," McDermott said. "The guards did a great job looking inside to Greg (Echenique) and myself. ... Our shooters have short memories. We all were looking to the next shot, not thinking about the last shot we took. We do a good job to continuing to move on and not thinking about it on defense."

Austin Chatman hit 4 of 7 three-pointers and finished with 16 points for Creighton.

Dyricus Simms-Edwards led Bradley (13-10, 5-6) with 18 points.

Creighton started the first half relatively hot from the field, hitting six three-pointers in the first 10 minutes en route to a 20-13 lead. But the Jays struggled mightily as the half closed.

Bradley's Walt Lemon Jr. scored six straight points, and Bradley ended the first half with a 30-27 lead. The Braves held Creighton to 34.5 percent shooting in the first half, by far one of Creighton's worst shooting halves of the year. The Braves also outrebounded Creighton 20-15.

"I thought in the first half we were able to get them out of a little bit of rhythm," Bradley coach Geno Ford said. "It can be hard if you aren't getting guarded if you're used to catching and having a guy right on you."

Creighton coach Greg McDermott said Bradley's defense gave the Bluejays headaches.

"Bradley did a great job mudding things up inside and coming at us with a lot of double teams," the coach said. "Usually when teams do that to us, we have a way to make them pay with our ability to shoot the ball from the three point line. They just didn't go in."

However, Creighton wasted no time getting back on track and opened the second half on a 6-0 run. Echenique had four points and the Jays forced two turnovers during the run.

"They got four easy baskets in the post in the second half," Ford said. "You can't afford to do that against a great offensive team. They're going to make shots. They're going to make plays, and we went to sleep a little bit."

Creighton took a 40-36 lead on Chatman's second three-pointer of the half with roughly 15 minutes left that got a once-quiet crowd loud again.

Creighton extended its lead to 61-48 with just over six minutes left on back-to-back baskets by McDermott to cap off an 18-8 run.

"The second half was a little bit more at the pace that we like to play and we made a few shots," Greg McDermott said. "We've lived on those types of spurts all year long. We'll hang around, hang around and then hit somebody with a run that changes the game."

NOTES: Chicago Bulls General Manager John Paxson was at the game scouting. ... 18,111 fans attended the Third-Annual "Creighton Vs. Cancer Third Annual Pink Out." This number was the fourth-largest figure ever at the CenturyLink Center.
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