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St. John’s overmatched inside by Creighton, 94-76

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Johnnies fell early, got close, and got handled in the second half

Wendell Cruz

St. John’s had moments of hope in this one, but those hopes were quickly dashed as the Creighton Bluejays found their rhythm, saw their freshman center reach a career-high, and almost earned a triple-double for one of their players in a 94-76 road win.

Creighton improves to 1-1 in Big East play, while St. John’s falls to 0-3 in league play for the second straight year. The Red Storm are 5-4 overall.

At first, it was a tale of extremes, a game that looked like an early blowout.

Creighton opened up on a fast 11-2 run. Meanwhile, St. John’s got their first rebound on either end with 13 minutes left in the first half. The Jays made five threes in the first nine minutes and looked comfortable, finding the open corner.

But St. John’s responded; Creighton was held without a field goal for over seven minutes and the Johnnies got the game closer and closer. Even Arnoldo Toro got in the action, while Posh Alexander found his offense early.

The second half started with promise. The Red Storm got within two points on a three from Greg Williams and two turnovers from Creighton’s Denzel Mahoney.

But Creighton used the inside attack to keep things steady, fending off the Red Storm behind a stretch of eight points from freshman center Ryan Kalkenbrenner and newly-eligible Duke transfer Alex O’Connell to keep the lead steady at around eight to ten points. Surprisingly, the thin Blue Jays dominated the game scoring inside and grabbing offensive rebounds —10 in total.

A 22-4 run gave the visiting Jays a 20-point lead; they led by as many as 23, and garbage time ensued.

St. John’s was led by 17 from Julian Champagnie. Posh Alexander added 13 and Dylan Addae-Wusu added 12, a career-high.

Creighton got 20 from Marcus Zegarowski and 16 from Denzel Mahoney. Ryan Kalkenbernner finished with 15. The Bluejays shot nearly 69% from the field in the second half — mostly inside the arc (16/26 inside, 6/8 from beyond the arc).

The Red Storm face Georgetown in a rematch on Sunday evening.