NCAA Basketball

Reserve Harrell leads Creighton past No. 19 Pirates 80-63

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

By ERIC OLSON

AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) The way Creighton let a road win slip away at Seton Hall last month surely provided motivation for the Bluejays for Wednesday night's rematch. If that weren't enough, the Bluejays also had redemption on their minds after an ugly 22-point loss at Xavier last weekend.

With Marcus Foster scoring 25 points and reserve Ronnie Harrell Jr. adding a career-high 18, Creighton unleashed some pent-up fury in an 80-63 win over No. 19 Seton Hall.

The Bluejays built an early 16-point lead, and after a lull before halftime they went on a 17-9 run that put away the Pirates.

"Proud of the way our team responded coming off a game in which we weren't ourselves at Xavier," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "We needed to refocus, maybe a little bit more commitment to the fundamentals of the defensive end and offensive end and the importance of communication. When we watched film on Monday, I think the guys understood my message and what needed to change. To their credit, they changed it."

The Bluejays (15-4, 5-2 Big East) split the season series with the Pirates (15-4, 4-2), avenging a 90-84 road loss last month in which they blew a double-digit lead and failed to score the last 3 1/2 minutes.

"That was definitely motivation for us just because of how close we were to winning that game," Foster said. "It was little mistakes that made us lose that game. As you saw tonight, we fixed those mistakes and were able to win by (almost) 20."

Harrell scored seven of Creighton's 17 points during its decisive run, and he later brought the sellout crowd to its feet with a behind-the-back move as he drove to the basket.

"I was going to pass it, and then I saw (the defender) commit toward me, so something cool happened after that," Harrell said, referring to his slick play.

A moment later, Foster waved his arms urging fans to make more noise when Seton Hall star Angel Delgado elbowed Toby Hegner for a flagrant-1 foul on the other end. It was Delgado's fourth personal, and Hegner made the free throws for a 67-47 lead with 8 minutes to play.

Delgado, who came into the game off seven straight double-doubles and had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting with Creighton, was in foul trouble all night as Creighton played aggressive defense against him. He was limited to four points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.

"The best thing about it is that he'll bounce back," Pirates coach Kevin Willard said.

Desi Rodriguez, the Pirates' season scoring leader, missed all six of his shots from the floor. He didn't play in the second half and finished with four points.

"Des has logged a ton of minutes and has been grinding and playing great," Willard said. "Just one of those nights I think he's a little worn out."

Willard had all of his starters out of the game with 6 minutes left. Myles Powell led the Pirates with 19 points.

"When you're down 20 and you have Xavier coming in and those guys are playing hard," Willard said, "it was more or less let's rest those guys and get ready for Saturday"

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: This was a debacle from the beginning. The Pirates shot a season-low 38.1 percent, committed 17 turnovers and had their lowest scoring output of the season. Time to forget this one and get ready for the showdown with Xavier.

Creighton: The Bluejays bounced back from the loss to Xavier in resounding fashion. They shot 51.7 percent, making them the first Seton Hall opponent to hit more than half its shots. They're a half-game behind first-place Villanova.

KRAMPELJ CONCERN

Creighton lost starting forward Martin Krampelj late in the first half to a knee injury. McDermott said he wouldn't know Krampelj's status until Thursday.

QUOTABLE

"When you come here in this building, the way they're playing, if you don't have your `A' game you're going to struggle. We didn't have our `A' game and we struggled." - Willard.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall: hosts No. 11 Xavier on Saturday.

Creighton: visits Providence on Saturday.

Updated January 18, 2018

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