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Creighton plays fast, faster, fastest against UND in 111-68 win

North Dakota Fighting Hawks guard Marlon Stewart (1) attempts a shot against Creighton Bluejays guard Marcus Foster (0) and forward Martin Krampelj (15) at CenturyLink Center Omaha on Tuesday night. Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

OMAHA, Neb.—The University of North Dakota prefers a fast-paced basketball game, one in which its athletic guards can use their skill. The same holds true for Creighton.

So, few expected any shot clock violations Tuesday night. And the shot clock operator had the easiest job in CenturyLink Arena, where Creighton—with more speed, depth and size—simply ran past UND 111-68 before 15,069 fans.

Creighton, coached by former UND assistant Greg McDermott, hit the century mark with more than four minutes to play, taking little time to launch their shots throughout the game. The Bluejays scored 28 points in transition in addition to hitting 13 three-pointers on 33 attempts. And most of those three-pointers came early in the shot clock.

"We knew it'd be a fast-paced game," said UND guard Marlon Stewart, who played for Creighton two years ago before transferring to UND. "We tried to prepare the best we could but it showed up out there. They're well coached and well trained. We couldn't keep up."

If anything, UND's biggest disappointment was its showing in the final 10 minutes. UND trailed 75-61 with with 10:32 to play after Jafar Kinsey hit a 3-pointer..

But the Bluejays accelerated after that, hitting gas to outscore the Fighting Hawks 34-8 in the final 10 minutes.

"I was really disappointed in the last 10 minutes," said Brian Jones. "We were down 14 and at the foul line but our guys got out of what we were doing. We were still in the game at that time but we had poor shot selection after poor shot selection and they got out and scored some easy baskets."

Creighton, picked to finish fifth in the Big East, was ranked in the AP Top 25 last week and has split four games against ranked teams so far this season. The Bluejays haven't altered their style against any team this season.

For McDermott, playing fast is the Bluejays' key to competing in the Big East, considering their lack of length—at least by big-time college basketball standards.

"Our pace doesn't necessarily wear on people in the first half," said McDermott. "But sooner or later it will catch up."

And the pace did eventually catch UND, which played an uptempo style in winning the Big Sky Conference last season.

But Creighton had too much of everything. Five Bluejays scored in double figures, led by all-Big East first-team selection Marcus Foster's 23 points. Creighton also outrebounded UND 48-29 and its bench outscored the Hawks' reserves 43-17.

McDermott said it wasn't his desire to break the century mark. "I didn't want to hang 111 on them. I don't want to run the score up on anyone but we want to give our guys off the bench an opportunity to show what they can do."

For Stewart, it was a bittersweet homecoming. He wanted to do well against his former Creighton teammates. He also wanted to have a better team showing.

"Creighton will be good in the Big East," said Stewart. "They should do a lot of damage, maybe finish in the top 3 if not No. 1."

UND had three players in double figures as Cortez Seales added 16, with Conner Avants finishing with 11.

Seales was 7-for-12 from the field, scoring mainly on power moves to the basket against taller Creighton players.

But he, too, noticed the wear and tear caused by Creighton's uptempo style.

"We had a few mental breakdowns; fatigue set in," said Seales. "Even though some may say we weren't tired but here and there you could see glimpses of fatigue. That can't happen as we go on."

But UND likely won't see pace like that again. And it was hard to prepare for that style of play.

"They're really talented," said Jones. "You can never get comfortable with that style of play until you see it in person. You have to physically go through it."

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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