“That’s not the way Creighton plays.”
Those were the words of junior guard Grant Gibbs after the men’s basketball team suffered an 89-68 loss at the hands of the Wichita State University Shockers.
The loss — Creighton’s third straight and fifth of the season — puts the Jays two games back of the Shockers in the race for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship with just three conference games remaining.The loss also signaled the end of Creighton’s run of being ranked in the polls, as the Jays fell out of the top 25 in both major polls.
The poor shooting that had plagued Creighton in losses to the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Evansville continued against Wichita State. Meanwhile, the Shockers seemingly hit every shot they took.
“They outplayed us in just about every facet of the game,” Gibbs said.
The Jays started well and jumped out to an 8-4 lead early behind four points and two assists by Gibbs. However, Wichita State responded with an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to take a seven-point lead and never looked back. The Jays kept it close for most of the half, and even cut it to just five points at 35-30 with 3:27 remaining. But Creighton could get no closer as the Shockers closed out the half on a 14-6 run and regained the momentum.
Creighton cut the lead to 10 as junior center Gregory Echenique scored the first three points of the second half, but that was as close as the Jays would get as Wichita had an answer every time Creighton tried to make up some ground. The lead grew as large as 24 before a 5-2 run by Creighton closed out the scoring.
As poorly as Creighton shot in this game (40.4 percent from the field including 21.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc), it wasn’t the offense that lost them the game according to the Bluejays’ head coach Greg McDermott.
“This afternoon our defense was atrocious,” McDermott said. “It was an embarrassment.”
Two players lead the way for the Shockers as forward Ben Smith and guard Joe Ragland combined to score 46 points on 17-24 shooting.
“Ben [Smith] beat us in a lot of ways,” McDermott said. “We didn’t have an answer to him in the first half, and we didn’t have an answer for Ragland in the second half.”
Echenique lead the Jays with 16 points on 5-6 shooting and 6-7 from the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Doug McDermott scored 13 points, while senior guard Antoine Young and sophomore forward Ethan Wragge each chipped in 11.
Creighton heads to Carbondale, Ill. on Tuesday night looking to snap their losing streak against the Southern Illinois University Salukis, who are 5-13 in Valley play. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be aired on KMTV.