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College Basketball Invitational Quarterfinal Recap - Creighton 82, Central Florida 64

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Gregory Echenique paced a balanced Creighton attack with 19 points, as the Bluejays defeated the visiting Central Florida Golden Knights in a College Basketball Invitational (CBI) semifinal contest Wednesday night.  The final score was in no way indicative of Creighton’s dominance. Antoine Young and Doug McDermott each scored 16 points, and Josh Jones and Kenny Lawson Jr. chipped in 11 points apiece for the Bluejays, who led from buzzer-to-buzzer.  

The Bluejays scored the game’s first ten points, opening up a 10-0 lead just two minutes into the game.  Young scored Creighton’s next five points, which extended the lead to 15-2 before UCF’s Keith Clanton drilled a three-pointer to make it 15-5.  The Knights scored on their next two possessions to cut the deficit to 15-9 on a layup by Isaiah Sykes at the 13:18 mark of the first half.  That proved to be the brightest moment of the first half for UCF, as the rest of the half was all Creighton.  Young and McDermott took turns doing the damage for the Bluejays,  who outscored the Knights 29-14 the remainder of the half, taking a 44-23 lead into halftime.  

Creighton shot 56.7 percent from the field in the first half, and was a tidy 5-of-10 from three-point range.  Young led the way by hitting 2-of-3 shots from long distance and scoring 12 points.  Freshman forward McDermott scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.  While the Bluejays were highly efficient on offense in the first half, the Knights were woeful, turning the ball over 13 times and connecting on just 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) shots from the field.  

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It didn’t really get much better for the visitors in the second half, as the Bluejays methodically built on their halftime lead. Young fed McDermott for a layup that increased the margin to 70-41 at the 8:12 mark of the second half.  The margin grew to 30 points about a minute later when Jahenns Manigat made a free throw.  Creighton was in cruise control from that point on.  Only a late rally by UCF in garbage time made the final score look somewhat respectable.  

Regardless of the outcome on Wednesday night, it has to be considered a successful season for Coach Donnie Jones’ UCF team.  The Knights earned a Top 25 ranking for the first time in school history, and advanced to the semifinals of a postseason tournament.  Clanton led UCF with 26 points with Isaiah Sykes and A.J. Rompza each chipping in 12 points.  Sophomore guard Marcus Jordan finished with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field.  The Knights finished the season with a 21-12 record.

Creighton improved to 22-14 with the victory and earned a CBI championship go-round with the Oregon Ducks, who beat Boise State 79-71 in the other semifinal.  

By Tim Coyne
DFN Sports Staff Writer
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