The No. 25 Bluejays turned in a steady performance from start to finish against cold-shooting Providence on Sunday, getting 18 points from Marcus Foster and leading by double digits most of way in an 83-64 victory. Three days earlier, Creighton squandered a double-digit second-half lead in a loss at Seton Hall.
"To these guys' credit, you could see the disappointment in their eyes and body language after that first practice, but they turned the page pretty quickly," coach Greg McDermott said. "We watched film (Friday) morning, got our learning out of the way and went to work on Providence, and I thought we really executed our plan well."
Toby Hegner matched his season high with 15 points for the Bluejays (11-3, 1-1 Big East), who beat the Friars for the first time in four tries in Omaha.
Creighton never trailed and went on a 13-4 run spanning the halves to take control. Hegner opened the second half with a 3-pointer and then took a charge from Nate Watson on the other end. Martin Krampelj dunked over Cartwright, got fouled and made the free throw for a 45-29 advantage. The Friars never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Ronnie Harrell Jr. said a big part of bouncing back from the loss to Seton Hall was keeping teammates' spirits up.
"We knew the mistakes we made, and from there it was a matter of going back and seeing what we did and correcting things," Harrell said. "We couldn't let anybody get down; we had to have each other's back. That's what we did."
Providence (10-5, 1-1) came in off an impressive road win over St. John's in which it made 16 3-pointers. But the Friars, who were shooting 41 percent from distance for the season, missed 9 of their first 10 against Creighton and finished 3 of 23.
Krampelj had four dunks and finished with 13 points, and Foster and Hegner combined for six of the Bluejays' 10 3-pointers.
"Sometimes our game is as simple as who makes shots and who misses shots," McDermott said. "They made 16 or 17 3s at St. John's. Did we challenge them better than maybe the game at St. John's? Probably. We got there and got a hand in the face. You make seven more 3s, that's 21 points you outscore them by at the 3-point line, and that's pretty significant."
CARTWRIGHT HURT AGAIN
The Friars' Kyron Cartwright, who beat the Bluejays in Omaha last year on a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left, aggravated a right ankle injury in the first half and had to get re-taped on the bench.
After having 21 points and 15 assists against St. John's, he was held to two points and had four turnovers to go with his five assists. Cartwright moved gingerly when he was on the court, and he played only seven minutes in the second half.
"We're not the same team unless Kyron is on the floor," Friars coach Ed Cooley said.
Providence: The Friars shot just 38.7 percent overall and were 1 for 11 on 3-pointers after halftime. Even though freshman Nate Watson had a season-high 20 points and Rodney Bullock had 15 points and 10 rebounds, the Friars need Cartwright healthy to be a factor in the Big East.
Creighton: It was an impressive bounce-back from the loss to Seton Hall. The Bluejays led much of the game against the Pirates, only to lose in the last four minutes. The Bluejays never gave Providence a chance to get back into this game once it was up big in the second half.
THAT HAD TO HURT
Creighton's Davion Mintz landed hard on his back going in for a fast-break dunk in the second half. Providence's Jalen Lindsey fouled Mintz on the way up, and Mintz needed a minute to collect himself before shooting his free throws. Mintz was no worse for the wear. A couple minutes he buried a 3-pointer to give their Bluejays their largest lead, 63-44.
"I came down and was numb. I started to get worried. I had to breathe a little bit. I thought my wrist had snapped back," Mintz said. "Thank God I'm OK. Maybe next time I can put that one down."
Providence: Hosts Marquette on Wednesday night.
Creighton: Hosts St. John's on Wednesday night.
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