OMAHA, Neb. — Gregory Echenique scored a season-high 19 points to lead five Creighton players in double figures in an 82-64 victory over Central Florida in a College Basketball Invitational semifinal Wednesday night.
The Bluejays (22-14) will host the opening game of the best-of-three finals on Monday against Oregon, which beat Boise State 79-71 in the other semifinal. Game 2 will be at Oregon next Wednesday and, if necessary, Game 3 will be at Creighton on April 1.”We get a chance to play basketball into April, and every one of these wins, there are fewer and fewer basketball teams across the country that have a chance to practice tomorrow, and we’re one of them,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We’re going to have some fun with it. We’re going to work hard to make sure we’re ready, but we’re also going to enjoy the experience.”Antoine Young had 16 points and 10 assists for the Bluejays, while Doug McDermott had 16 points and Josh Jones and Kenny Lawson added 11 apiece.Keith Clanton had 26 points and Isaiah Sykes and A.J. Rompza had 12 apiece to lead the Knights (21-12).Doug McDermott scored eight straight points to open the game, UCF committed five of its 13 first-half turnovers in the first 4 minutes and Creighton took a 15-2 lead.The Bluejays led 44-23 at halftime and built the lead to 30 points with 7 minutes to play.”Every game we say, ‘Let’s be the team to throw the first punch,” Echenique said. “We set the tone. We let the other team know it wouldn’t be easy. It built our confidence. We never let down. We kept on pushing.”Young has 27 assists in three CBI games with no turnovers. He and the Bluejays’ other primary ballhandler, Jahenns Manigat, have combined for 37 assists and one turnover in the CBI.”The way Antoine has finished the season, he’s taken a quantum leap forward,” Greg McDermott said.UCF season scoring leader Marcus Jordan was held scoreless until late in the first half, and most of his nine points came in garbage time.The Knights didn’t arrive in Omaha until 4 1/2 hours before tipoff. After not being able to fly commercial on Tuesday, they had to take a chartered 30-seat, turboprop from Orlando to Omaha, with a refueling stop in Memphis.UCF coach Donnie Jones refused to blame his team’s slow start on the travel difficulties.”Creighton played very well. It’s a very good basketball team. Those guys deserved the victory tonight,” Jones said. “We usually compete at a different level.”
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