McDermott, Creighton too much for SJU

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Garrett Miley @GWMiley

Saint Joseph’s did not leave Omaha instilling confidence in anyone that they are ready to finish first in the Atlantic 10. Creighton defeated the Hawks 80-51 on their home court, CenturyLink Center. Creighton was led by pre-season All-American forward Doug McDermott who scored 23 points and center Gregory Echenique who scored 16 points for the Bluejays.

Greg McDermott scored 18 of his 23 points before intermission against Saint Joseph’s (Photo credit: Dave Weaver / AP)

The Hawks fell behind quickly as they could do nothing to stop McDermott from scoring early on. McDermott scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half and the Bluejays jumped out to a massive 47-20 lead, stunning the Hawks.

Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli was limited with his forward rotation in the first half after Ronald Roberts Jr. picked up a personal and technical foul in one sequence when he got in Creighton guard Grant Gibbs’ face after pushing him under the basket; combined a prior foul, Roberts was sent to the bench with three personals just 8:50 into the game.

Saint Joseph’s was forced to take outside shots against Creighton all afternoon as they really struggled to establish any interior presence on the offensive end. Both teams shot over 20 3-point attempts in the game but Creighton shot 48 percent (10-of-21) from behind the arc while Saint Joseph’s shot a dismal 25 percent (7-of-28).

Langston Galloway was the only double figure scorer for the Hawks on Saturday, scoring 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Carl Jones, who scored 29 points in Saint Joseph’s 80-71 victory over Creighton last season, was held to a season-low nine points by the Bluejay defense.

Jones shot just 3-of-10 from the floor on Saturday, as the entire Saint Joseph’s offense failed to establish any real rhythm or flow. For the third straight game, Roberts was held to single digits as he recorded just three points in the loss. Roberts was leading the team in scoring during Jones’ absence while he was suspended for the first three games of the season.

Aside from big games out of McDermott and Echenique, the Creighton scoring load was spread out. Twelve different Bluejays scored for coach Greg McDermott’s team. Forward Ethan Wragge continued to be the leading scorer off of the bench for Creighton as he scored 7 points in 16 minutes of action for the Bluejays.

Junior forward Halil Kanacevic returned to the Hawk lineup after missing the American game with a back injury (Photo: Josh Verlin)

Saint Joseph’s forward Halil Kanacevic started against Creighton on Saturday after missing Wednesday night’s game against American due to a back injury. Saint Joseph’s, for the first time this season, started their projected lineup of Kanacevic, C.J. Aiken, Ronald Roberts Jr., Carl Jones¬†and Langston Galloway. Kanacevic scored 6 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and committed a grievous 5 turnovers in what was an ugly performance by Saint Joseph’s offensively.

Saint Joseph’s failed to capitalize on a prime opportunity to show the country that they can win on the road and are a more experienced team than they were a year ago. Eight of the Hawks’ 14 losses last season came while they were on the road. Coming in to this season there was a lot of talk about Saint Joseph’s inability last season to hold first half leads, as well as their inability to win on the road. In the Hawks’ two losses this season, lost on a neutral court Florida State in the Coaches vs. Cancer final and were unable to secure a victory on the road, albeit in an extremely tough environment in Omaha.

The Hawks have another game on the road this week as they will head to Baltimore to take on Coppin State on Tuesday before returning back to Philadelphia to take on Big 5 rival Villanova in the “Holy War” on Dec. 11.

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