MEN’S BASKETBALL: Creighton Advances to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 With Victory Over Baylor
DENVER, Colo. –(CU Athletics Mar. 19)– For the second time in the last three seasons, the sixth-seeded Creighton men’s basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16! Sophomore Ryan Nembhard guided the Bluejays with a career-high 30 points to lead Creighton to an 85-76 win over third-seeded Baylor on Sunday night at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo.
With the win, Creighton (23-12) advances to face 15th-seeded Princeton (24-5) in Louisville, Ky., in the South Regional semifinals on Friday, March 24 at a time to be determined. Creighton is 1-0 all-time against the Tigers, claiming a 63-54 win back in 1961. The third-seeded and 11th-ranked Baylor Bears finished the season with a 23-11 record.
Hot shooting from both squads kept the contest close early, the Bluejays took a slim 15-12 advantage on a three from Nembhard before surging on a 9-2 run, highlighted by a pair of treys from senior Francisco Farabello to open up a 24-14 lead.
Baylor mustered up a response with seven of the next 10 points to cut the deficit to six at 27-21 before a pair of free throws from Ryan Kalkbrenner, a jumper from Nembhard and a three from Arthur Kaluma pushed the Bluejays advantage out to 34-23 with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
A three late by senior Baylor Scheierman gave Creighton a 39-29 lead at intermission as Creighton shot 12-of-24 (50 percent) from the field and 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from three in the opening frame. CU was paced by 11 points from Nembhard and eight points from Scheierman, while the Bluejays held a slim 19-15 edge on the boards in the first half.
Baylor was led by LJ Cryer with 12 points as the Bears shot 13-of-36 from the field, including a 2-for-15 mark from behind the arc in the opening 20 minuets.
Coming out of the locker room both teams traded blows as Creighton made five of their first seven shots and Baylor hit seven of their first eight shot to cut the deficit down to five at 50-45 with 14:41 remaining in the game.
A pull-up jumper by sophomore Trey Alexander sparked a 15-5 run by the Bluejays that gave Creighton a 65-50 lead with 9:43 left. Four different Bluejays contributed to the run as Nembhard dialed up midrange jumper and Kalkbrenner finished a lob at the rim before a 15-footer by Kaluma capped off the surge.
Baylor showed no quit cutting the lead down to 12 at 71-59, before back-to-back triples by Farabello and Nembhard gave Creighton its largest lead of the game at 77-59 with 5:54 remaining in the game.
Creighton converted eight free throws down the stretch to secure the 85-76 win for the Bluejays, part of a school-record 22-for-22 marksmanship showing at the line.
Nembhard led four Bluejays in double-figures with a career-high 30 points. Creighton got a combined 76 points from its starting five, getting 17 from Alexander, 11 from Kaluma, 10 from Kalkbrenner and eight from Scheierman. As a team, the Bluejays shot 26-of-55 (47.3 percent) from the field, including an 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) marksmanship from three and a perfect 22-of-22 from the line, while out rebounding the Bears 34-29 on the boards.
Cryer led the way for the Bears with 30 points, as Baylor shot 29-of-63 (46 percent) from the field and 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from three while converting 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) of their free throws.