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No. 9 Creighton squares with second Summit League challenger

Sportsnaut
Nov 7, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, USA;  Creighton Bluejays guard Ryan Nembhard (2) drives up the court against St. Thomas - Minnesota Tommies forward Parker Bjorklund (5)during the second half at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Creighton seeks to move closer to a complete performance in its second game of the season on Thursday when it hosts North Dakota in Omaha, Neb.

The Bluejays scored 16 of the game’s final 19 points to post a 72-60 victory over scrappy St. Thomas-Minnesota on Monday in the season opener for both teams.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman ignited the surge for Creighton. Scheierman collected 11 points and 10 rebounds, Arthur Kaluma added 17 and eight and Ryan Kalkbrenner had eight and nine, respectively, in the victory.

Impressive numbers, but the Bluejays were only up against a Summit League member beginning its second season in Division I. Creighton also is carrying the burden of great expectations after being picked to finish first in the 2022-23 Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

“I would’ve liked us to look a little bit more of a finished product (on Monday), but obviously we’re still growing, we’re still learning,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said.

“… There’s going to be a time where we’re playing a team somewhere in Big East play or later in this nonconference where we’re not making shots and you have to figure out a way to win. I hope we’ll able to look back on (Monday) and be able to learn from what we see in the film.”

What McDermott will see — presumably among other things — is his team made just 39.4 percent of its shots from the floor (26 of 66) and 23.5 percent from 3-point range (8 of 34).

“Shots weren’t falling for everyone tonight, so when that’s not happening you have to do other things to give your team energy and make winning plays,” said Scheierman, who finished with three made 3-pointers. “And I just made a few of those down the stretch that wasn’t scoring, but still important.”

Creighton (1-0) draws a second Summit League member in North Dakota, which also required a strong second-half performance to win its season opener.

The Fighting Hawks were tied at halftime and trailed Incarnate Word by four points with 11:07 to play before posting a 65-57 victory on Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.

Matt Norman drained a trio of 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 14 points against the Cardinals. Freshman B.J. Omot added 11 points despite shooting just 3-of-11 from the floor.

“I’m not going to lie, I had the nerves in the first half as you can see,” Omot said. “In the second half, I got a little comfortable, found my rhythm. It’s only up from here.”

North Dakota coach Paul Sather certainly hopes so. After all, the Fighting Hawks have an admittedly tough schedule ahead of them.

“We’ve got some really challenging games, and you throw in Creighton who is picked to win the Big East and Iowa State who made a great run last year in the (NCAA) Tournament,” Sather said. “I think we’re really challenging ourselves. There’s an opportunity there when you’re going against really good competition to grow and get better.

“And listen, if the outcome is going our way, awesome, but let’s keep the focus on getting better and improving.”

–Field Level Media