Houston Baptist loses 97-62 to No. 25 Creighton
OMAHA, Neb. (AP)
By then the Huskies were down by 20 points and on their way to a 97-62 loss on Saturday night.
Art Bernardi and reserve Anthony Hill each had 16 points to lead Houston Baptist, which was playing a ranked opponent for the first time since facing then-No. 15 Michigan in November 2009. Hill had 11 points in the first half.
''Those guys came prepared for us. They're just real strong,'' Huskies coach Ron Cottrell said. ''We had no matchups that went our way, and it snowballed as the night went on. If not for Anthony Hill in the first half, that game could have been real, real ugly.''
Houston Baptist typically draws fewer than 1,000 fans to its home games, and the biggest crowd the Huskies had played in front of previously this season was 9,273 at Washington. Saturday's crowd was 16,513, and Cottrell said it was a factor.
''We had three freshmen on the court quite often, and they might have felt uncomfortable,'' he said. ''We didn't get off to a good start. When that happens, they start questioning themselves and revert back to high school stuff.''
Creighton was up 12-1 before Houston Baptist made its first field goal after 10 straight misses. When the Huskies hit their second, they were down 28-8.
McDermott, who came in as the nation's No. 2 scorer at 24 points a game, had his eighth straight 20-point game for the Bluejays (8-1).
But Echenique was an even bigger problem for the Huskies (4-7). The 6-foot-9, 270-pounder needed only 15 minutes to record his first double-double of the season. Echenique also blocked five shots and threw down two big dunks.
Echenique said he was motivated to put behind him a poor performance in a loss at St. Joseph's a week earlier.
''You can always push yourself more,'' Echenique said. ''When you win, you get used to it, and sometimes you forget that you can do more. Losing was like a shock. It was a wakeup call, and we had to go back to work.''
Creighton coach Greg McDermott said the way Echenique played against Houston Baptist was the way he should have been performing all season. Echenique had 10 points and five rebounds in the loss at St. Joseph's.
''I was really hard on him for a couple days, just on his effort and concentration and his ability to impact the game more than he was impacting the game,'' Greg McDermott said. ''He got some extra work in with my coaching staff, just keeping the ball a little higher, being more aggressive and using his lower body. He brought what he had done on the practice floor onto the game floor tonight, and that was very encouraging to see.''
Creighton went on two 10-0 runs and led by as many as 29 points while building a 46-23 halftime lead. The Bluejays opened the second half on a 12-2 run and led by 39 points with 10 minutes left.
The Bluejays clamped down on the Huskies, who were scoring 77 points a game and had five players averaging in double figures.
''The most encouraging thing from my perspective was defensively,'' Greg McDermott said. ''Houston Baptist, the one thing they had done consistently all year was score points. They scored on three out of 20 possessions to start the game and three of 14 to start the second half. The message we attempted to send in practice was heard loud and clear, and I thought we competed a little harder.''
The Bluejays held a 52-34 rebounding advantage and limited the Huskies to 36-percent shooting.
''When we were out at St. Joe's, we didn't have the defensive efficiency we're capable of,'' Ethan Wragge said. ''We really focused on that in practice this week, and wanted to come out early and set the tone. Our first five did a good job of that.''