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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Creighton men’s basketball makes history

The Bluejays knock off number one ranked UConn Huskies
+Creighton+Bluejays+defeat+the+number+one+ranked+UConn+Huskies+in+a+one+sided+match.%0A
Sam Blecha
Creighton Bluejays defeat the number one ranked UConn Huskies in a one sided match.

The number one ranked UConn Huskies came to Omaha to face the fifteenth ranked Creighton Bluejays for the second time this year. In their first matchup, UConn handled Creighton pretty well, winning the game 62-48. 

Senior Guard Tristen Newton led the Huskies in points with 16 and helped them control the entire game. Creighton’s leading scorer was Steven Ashworth with 14, but it wasn’t enough to get over the hump of UConn’s big runs. UConn’s defense was outstanding, holding Creighton to 48 points, which is the least amount of points they had scored all year.

Coming into this next matchup in Omaha, Creighton had a record of 19-7, and UConn with a record of 24-2. Before the game, Creighton had never defeated the number one overall team ever in all of school history. In the first four minutes of the game, UConn took a good lead 11-3 and Creighton was all over the place. They had multiple turnovers and did not look like they were prepared for the game, but this changed quickly.

Creighton cut the UConn lead to 2 points at the 13 minute mark after back to back threes from junior Trey Alexander and Steven Ashworth. The game was tight between the two teams around the eight minute mark until Ashworth completely took over. After Creighton got an energy boosting dunk from senior Ryan Kalkbrenner, Ashworth went down the court and hit a three pointer that was near half court.

In an interview with ESPN, Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said, “Even when we got off to that bad start I didn’t see any fear, no concern in our faces, we just continued to play.”

Ashworth’s shot made the arena go crazy and the momentum had all shifted towards Creighton and UConn had to take a timeout. At this point, Creighton was up 29-23 and they looked like a way different team than at the start of the game. Ashworth came out of the timeout and hit a jumper, then a three pointer, and also made two more free throws. He could not miss and Creightons six point lead had now grown to 11 at 36-25. 

At this point in the game, UConn’s whole team looked lost besides Newton. Newton was single handedly keeping them in the game. When Creightons lead grew to 11, UConn’s head coach had to call another timeout. UConn was trying to do everything they could so that Ashworth didn’t shoot the ball anymore, but they still couldn’t stop him. He came out of the timeout and hit another three pointer to make the lead 14 points. Creighton led UConn 43-29 at halftime and mostly thanks to Ashworth who had 16 points in the first half. A big factor in the first half was that UConn’s star sophomore center, Donovan Clingan had gotten two early fouls which had kept him out of the game for most of the first half.

While speaking to ESPN, Bluejays senior Steven Ashworth said, “When you’re in your home gym, there’s a feeling of confidence, and the fans were a huge part of that. Definitely a home-court advantage, and in that first half we got on a little bit of a heater.”

Creighton came out of halftime and picked up right where they had left off. They started off the second half with an 11-4 run and took a 21 point lead. At this time, it looked as if there wasn’t a single team in the whole country that could beat Creighton tonight the way they were playing. Their lead stayed around 16 points until they took another 20 point lead around the eleven minute mark. UConn looked as if they had almost lost all of their energy and had given up. But before you knew it, UConn had cut the lead all the way back to 10 points. Newton scored 10 of UConn’s points in their 18-5 scoring run to cut the lead to 10 points. 

But after this, Creighton held UConn to five scoreless possessions at the end of the game to secure the win, 85-66. When the buzzer sounded, the students all stormed the court with the players as they celebrated making history. 

Speaking to ESPN again, Creighton head coach McDermott said, “It’s a historic game for our program. I told the team in the locker room, “It’s really a culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people over a long period of time to give these guys the opportunity to wear this uniform and play in front of the crowd we were able to play in front of tonight.”

Steven Ashworth had a career high 20 points and led the team in scoring. Trey Alexander contributed 16, and Ryan Kalkbrenner 15. Before the game, Creighton hadn’t had a lot of productivity from the bench, but that was different in this game. Off the bench, redshirt freshman Jasen Green scored 8 points, and senior Francisco Farabello with 6. The team shot 54.7% from the field and shot 50% from three. UConn was on a 14 game win streak, which was the longest in Division 1 at the time, and Creighton snapped that streak. 

In the same interview, McDermott said, “First of all, I’m old, you’ve got to be in it a long time to coach enough games to do that, and I’ve coached at some good places, had some really good players play for me. This is one I’ll never forget because of how it transpired and how good the team we were playing. One of the best crowds we’ve ever had here, but as I said earlier, there’s a lot of guys that have played for me here that have put us in a position to win a lot of games, because they sacrifice.”

Not only did Creighton make all the sports media around the world for making history and shocking the country, they also left everyone in the arena with a moment that they will never forget. 

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About the Contributor
Sam Blecha, Staff Reporter
Sam is a senior at Millard West and this is his first year on the CATalyst staff. He likes to spend his time hanging out with friends and family. Things he likes to do with his friends are watching and playing sports, like golf and basketball. A lot of his time is also spent working. He enjoys writing about sports events that have happened all over the world and reviewing new and upcoming movies in the movie industry.

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