Sophomore Ryan Nembhard poured in a career-high 30 points and No. 6 seed Creighton converted all 22 of its free throw attempts to earn an 85-76 victory over third-seeded Baylor in South Regional second-round play Sunday night in Denver.
Trey Alexander posted 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Arthur Kaluma added 11 points for the Bluejays (23-12), who claimed their second Sweet 16 berth in three years.
Creighton will face No. 15 seed Princeton Friday night in Louisville. The Bluejays and Tigers have met once previously — a 63-54 Creighton home win on Dec. 29, 1961.
LJ Cryer recorded a career-high 30 points to pace Baylor (23-11) while Adam Flagler added 15 and Jalen Bridges scored 12.
The Bears canned just 5 of 22 attempts from 3-point range compared to the Bluejays’ 11-for-24 effort — good for an 18-point edge from long distance for the Bluejays.
Creighton’s edge in deep shooting played out early as it drilled four of its first five 3-point tries — including one from each corner by backup guard Francisco Farabello — to build an 18-12 lead at the 13:37 mark of the first half.
The Bluejays expanded their lead to 27-17 on Alexander’s 3-pointer with 7:51 to play. At that juncture, Baylor had made just 31.8 percent of its shots overall and 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
Josh Ojianwuna and Bridges threw down back-to-back dunks to pull Baylor within 34-27 with 2:28 to go, but Baylor Scheierman swished a 3-pointer from the corner — Creighton’s seventh of the half — to give the Bluejays a 39-29 lead at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, Flagler cashed a jumper and Cryer followed with a pullup and a 3-pointer to give Baylor a 7-0 run that chopped Creighton’s lead to 50— the closest the Bears had been since 15-12.
Creighton’s Alexander answered with a short jumper on the ensuing possession to trigger a 13-5 spree over the next four minutes to restore a 13-point lead.
When Creighton 7-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 6:33 mark, Baylor had a window to rally. But after Flagler hit two free throws to pull the Bears within 71-59, Farabello and Nembhard responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to give Creighton its biggest lead at 77-59.
Flagler’s layup cut Creighton’s margin to 79-70 with three minutes to play. The Bears had three subsequent possessions to get closer, but Keyonte George’s missed shot was followed by two turnovers.
–Field Level Media