April 17, 2014

Creighton hoops adds transfer Maurice Watson Jr.

Maurice Watson Jr. (photo by Steve McLaughlin, courtesy Boston University)

Maurice Watson Jr. (photo by Steve McLaughlin, courtesy Boston University)

Creighton men’s basketball head coach Greg McDermott has announced that guard Maurice Watson Jr. will transfer from Boston University and enroll at Creighton this summer. Watson’s decision became official on Tuesday when he returned a signed financial aid agreement to Creighton.

He will sit out the 2014-15 season due to transfer requirements before having two years of eligibility in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

“We are excited to welcome Maurice Watson Jr. to the Creighton Basketball Family,” said Bluejay head coach Greg McDermott. “Maurice has proven over the course of the last two seasons at Boston University that he is an unselfish point guard who also has the ability to score the basketball. I believe he will excel in our up-tempo system. He comes from a tremendous family and possesses the core values in terms of character and passion that our program has come to expect. We can’t wait to get him on campus!”

Watson is a 5’10 guard who spent the previous two seasons as the starting point guard at Boston University. He owned 800 points, 410 assists and 125 steals in two years with the Terriers, where he started 63 of 65 games and played for a pair of postseason squads.

Watson led BU by averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 assists per game as a sophomore, the latter a figure that ranked third-best nationally. He was named First Team All-District by the NABC and USBWA, and also First Team All-Patriot League. Watson’s 248 assists ranked tied for ninth-most nationally among sophomores since 1997-98.

He averaged 11.2 points and 5.4 assists per game as a freshman, earning All-Rookie Team and Third-Team All-America East Conference accolades in 2012-13. He was a four-time AEC Rookie of the Week, and became the sixth freshman in league history to lead the AEC in assists.

Watson hails from Philadelphia, Pa., where he played for his father Maurice Watson Sr. at Boys’ Latin High School. He was an ESPN Top-100 recruit and PARADE Magazine All-American after finishing second in Philadelphia Public League history with 2,356 career points.

Creighton went 27-8 in 2013-14 while finishing second in the BIG EAST. The Bluejays advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. The Bluejays are coached by Greg McDermott, who is 107-38 after four seasons at Creighton.

Huskers pound out 22 hits in knocking off Kansas State

Michael Pritchard went a career-high 5-for-5 with a double and two RBIs

After facing a 4-0 deficit following the top of the first inning, the Nebraska offense lit up the scoreboard in a 14-5 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats on Tuesday night at Hawks Field. The Huskers amassed a season-high 22 hits as five NU batters registered three hits or more on the evening, while matching a season-best in runs. The Huskers have won nine of their last 10 games and are now 24-14 on the season.

Nebraska’s first three batters went a combined 12-for-14 on the night, including a 5-for-5 performance from Michael Pritchard, the senior’s first career five-hit game. Freshman leadoff hitter Ryan Boldt chipped in his third four-hit game of the year, while Jake Placzek, Ben Miller and Blake Headley each produced three hits. Five Huskers tallied doubles on the night, including two from Headley, while Tanner Lubach launched his third homer of the season with a two-run shot in the fifth.

Pritchard notched four singles and a double on the night and is 13-for-25 in his last six games, while raising his average 45 points from .261 to .306.

Nebraska’s 22 hits were the most by an NU offense since it notched 24 hits in a 22-3 win over Louisiana Tech at Hawks Field on March 16, 2012.

While Nebraska’s offense was scoring runs, the NU bullpen silenced KSU’s bats that scored a combined 22 runs in the first two meetings this year. Four NU relievers combined to give up one run on six hits over the final 8.0 innings of the game, with the lone run scoring on a wild pitch. Sophomore Colton Howell earned his first career win in 3.0 innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.

Along with Howell, Bob Greco pitch 3.0 scoreless innings of relief, while Zach Hirsch tossed a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts and freshman Max Knutson ended the game with a scoreless ninth inning.

After falling behind 4-0, the Huskers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, starting with three straight singles from Boldt, Placzek and Pritchard. Boldt scored on a Pritchard single and Pat Kelly drove in the second run for the Huskers with a sacrifice fly. Nebraska evened the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the third on a RBI single by Kelly and a double-play ball off the bat of Austin Darby.

The Wildcats retook the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fourth on a wild pitch by Howell, but NU answered in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs to take the lead for good. After Boldt scored on a balk to tie the game, Pritchard laid down a two-out bunt single and Placzek scored on the play to put the Huskers ahead, 6-5.

After Greco set the Wildcats down in order in the top of the fifth, the Huskers pushed their lead to five with four runs on five hits to take a 10-5 lead through five innings. Lubach blasted his third home run of the year over the wall in left to give NU an 8-5 lead, while Boldt and Placzek added RBI singles after Headley doubled.

NU put up another four-spot in the bottom of the eighth on four hits, including back-to-back-to-back doubles with two outs. Quinn McGill started the rally by notching a pinch hit, two-RBI double off the left-field wall, before Lubach followed with his second extra-base hit of the game and Headley stroked his second double of the game.

The Huskers continue their five game homestand tomorrow night when they host the Omaha Mavericks at 6:35 p.m.

Storm Chasers come up big with two-outs in shutout of Express

Matt Fields extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games in the win, and is one of two players in the PCL to hit safely in all of his team’s games. (Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Storm Chasers)

Three pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout in a 6-0 win for the Omaha Storm Chasers (6-6) against the Round Rock Express (7-5), their first shutout victory of the 2014 season. The Omaha offense scored all six of their runs with two outs, with eight of the nine hits for the Chasers on the night coming in that situation.

Right-hander Aaron Brooks made his first career Triple-A start in the game, second Triple-A appearance, and allowed only three hits in four innings of work in a pitch count-shortened outing. Lefty relievers Justin Marks and Buddy Baumann came in after Brooks and only allowed one hit in the final five innings of the game to complete the 12th ever shutout for Omaha at Werner Park. Round Rock came into the game with the fourth best batting average in the PCL at .288.

The Storm Chasers offense used timely hitting to score all six of their runs, and got going in the second inning when a two-out Paulo Orlando single led to a two-run homer by Francisco Pena for his first long ball as a Storm Chaser. In the sixth inning Omaha scored on three straight RBI hits by Carlos Peguero, Brian Fletcher and Matt Fields to stretch the lead to 5-0. Fletcher has recorded a RBI in seven straight starts, the longest streak of RBI games in his career, while Fields’ RBI single extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. Fields is one of only two players in the PCL to hit safely in all of his team’s games (Justin Bour of New Orleans is the other).

The Storm Chasers continued their dominance over Round Rock at Werner Park, notching their 18th win in 25 contests against the Rangers top affiliate (which is the best winning percentage against any team in the league). The game was played in 2 hours and 17 minutes, the fourth shortest game in Werner Park history (the shortest game was against Round Rock in June of 2012 at 2 hours and 14 minutes).

Omaha will look to push their record above .500 tomorrow as they send out LHP John Lamb (0-2, 5.40 ERA), whose only Triple-A victory in five total starts came against the Express on the final day of the 2013 season. Lamb will face off with Round Rock righty Scott Baker (2-0, 3.75 ERA), with first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

Creighton hangs on to best Pirates

Doug McDermott had 19 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, moving into 10th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring charts, to help No. 11 Creighton hold off Seton Hall in a 72-71 game before 18,742 fans at CenturyLink Center Omaha on Sunday evening.

McDermott had 29 points on 8-of-14 field goal attempts, including 12-of-16 at the line, but missed two free throws with 21.0 left and Creighton up three. After Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin made two free throws with 8.2 left to make it a one-point game, Creighton’s Ethan Wragge was fouled with 4.0 left. Wragge, like McDermott one of the best shooters in CU history, also missed both foul shots to give Seton Hall one last chance. But without a timeout, all Seton Hall could manage was a turn-around 40-footer from Edwin as time expired that bounced off the glass and gave CU its 17th straight home win.

Creighton improved to 23-4 on the year and moved back into sole possession of first place in the BIG EAST with a 13-2 conference record. Seton Hall lost its fourth league game by one point this year and fell to 14-13 (5-9 BIG EAST). [Read more...]

Nebraska hoops wins fifth straight

The Nebraska men’s basketball team continued its late-season surge with a 76-57 rout over Purdue Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Huskers (16-10, 8-6 B1G) have won five straight conference games for the first time since 1999 and improved to a Big Ten-best 13-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena this season.

Nebraska, which has held its last five foes under 40 percent shooting, held the Boilermakers to just 30.2 percent shooting, including 3-of-16 from 3-point range. The Huskers, who have won seven of their last eight games, used stifling defensive pressure with a 10 steals, including three each from Benny Parker and Shavon Shields. NU forced 14 Purdue turnover which led to a commanding 19-0 advantage in points off turnovers. [Read more...]