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Struggling Bradley loses 73-59 to No. 15 Creighton

Bradley coach Geno Ford, left, questions a call by an official in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Creighton won 73-59. Bradley coach Geno Ford, left, questions a call by an official in the second half of their NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Creighton won 73-59. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
By Eric Olson
AP Sports Writer / January 29, 2012
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OMAHA, Neb.—No. 15 Creighton was too tough to handle for struggling Bradley.

Dyricus Simms-Edwards scored 19 points to lead the Braves, but he had only three after halftime in a 73-59 loss Saturday night.

Bradley (6-17, 1-10 Missouri Valley Conference) got within three points of the Bluejays in the second half, and Creighton responded with a flurry each time. The Braves have lost 13 of their last 14.

"I thought for the most part tonight we really had a good mentality about grinding," Bradley coach Geno Ford said. "Our guys believed they could win, which is important. We can't lose that, even though we came up short and got beat by a better team. I didn't feel so much like we lost tonight as Creighton won."

Doug McDermott scored 24 points and Josh Jones and Gregory Echenique added 14 apiece for the Bluejays (20-2, 10-1), who won their 10th straight.

A school-record crowd of 18,436 watched as the Bluejays beat Bradley for the 14th time in a row in Omaha since 1998.

Taylor Brown added 16 points for Bradley.

McDermott, who scored a career-high 44 points in a Jan. 7 win at Bradley, scored Creighton's first seven points and finished 10 of 14 from the floor.

"They made enough shots to keep us at bay and they were able to get it in to McDermott on a lot of big possessions," Ford said. "We knew they were going to look for him. He's going to find a way to catch it and finish it, which is what he does every game."

After Brown scored to cut Creighton's lead to 35-32, Jones made back-to-back 3s to finish a 9-0 run.

After Bradley's Walt Lemon Jr. scored on a layup to make it 48-45, Avery Dingman and Ethan Wragge hit consecutive 3s to end an 8-0 burst that put the Bluejays up 56-45.

The Braves had no more runs left in them.

"If you have any chance to win on the road in a game like this, you have to be able to fight through that stretch where they make a couple," Ford said.

Creighton secured a 20-win season for the 13th time in 14 years. No prior Bluejays team had ever reached 20 wins before February.

The Bluejays have won at least 10 Valley games for a record 16th straight season.

The Bluejays wore pink-trimmed warm-up tops and uniforms as part of a local Creighton vs. Cancer effort that coincided with the nationwide Coaches vs. Cancer day.

Bradley wore pink warm-up tops and shoelaces. Creighton encouraged all fans to wear pink, and 12,000 pink shirts were handed out at the door.

Bradley president Joanne Glasser and Theresa McDermott, wife of Creighton coach Greg McDermott and mother of Doug, are breast cancer survivors.

An auction of Creighton's warm-up tops and jerseys raised more than $20,000, and Greg McDermott said he hoped at least another $20,000 would be raised during the game.

"When I came through the tunnel and saw the pink, it took me aback for a second," Greg McDermott said. "I'm amazed how this community and campus jumped on board with this."

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