Creighton crushes BYU to extend tournament dominance

(CNN) – When Beanie Wells fell to the court after taking a nasty spill early in the game, his parents still had a choice — raise their voice or scream in celebration.

Unfortunately for their son, Wells got both.

The 21-year-old Creighton guard and aspiring professional — who could receive a contract offer from the NBA next month — left the game and to spend the next 10 minutes sitting on the bench with his helmet on. When he returned to action, Creighton’s tournament-favorite team put on another show for its home crowd in Omaha.

Creighton, ranked sixth in the AP preseason poll, breezed by No. 24 BYU 83-71 in Friday’s Big East/Pac 12 Challenge game.

This after Wells had taken off from a scramble for a loose ball after halftime, his knee buckling and sending him to the ground.

Like a drill sergeant, Creighton coach Greg McDermott barked encouragement at Wells to stay on the bench with his helmet on and gave him another dig at halftime.

Wells — whose modest, head-down approach has led to a reputation as a locker room leader — certainly took the hint.

He tried to climb to his feet, but had too much help. Once he stood, he gave McDermott an infamous fist pump — in a play that couldn’t have been more surprising or unwarranted.

Wells actually made his first 3-pointer after going 3-for-15 from deep during Creighton’s 7-6 start.

“One thing that I know about Beans is he has a fire. He’s a competitor. He’s a winner,” McDermott said. “Once you get on the road here, you do have to be mentally tough.

“The word we need to put into his vocabulary is perseverance. Just not letting things bother him, grinding through and coming out victorious.”

That was a long time coming for Wells. He missed all but two games last season after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Wells showed no signs of pain during his half, dribbling behind his back for a layup.

Then he toppled to the floor, clutching his knee, shaking his head in disbelief before the decision was made to have him replaced.

Wells’ teammates came in and scored on four of their first six possessions.

The game was a reminder that the Big East/Pac 12 Challenge games are usually decided by a contest-deciding 2 or 3-point shot, a la Notre Dame’s game against Michigan State in the Maui Invitational.

They weren’t this time.

When Wells first went out of the game, BYU, which has one of the nation’s youngest rosters, stayed close.

They came back, then watched Creighton go on a 14-3 run to put the game out of reach in the first minutes of the second half.

Creighton, which has won six of its last seven games, has won the last three Big East/Pac 12 Challenge games, which has helped it become a tournament favorite for the second straight season.

“It shows how good we’re capable of being if we just keep sticking together as a team,” Wells said. “That’s what we focus on at practice.”

Creighton’s Ashlynn Buggs showed some of the nation’s most improved post play after a strong start.

The freshman drew an offensive foul, scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. She now has earned a starting position for Creighton since the week before Christmas.

Her twin sister, Brooklyn, scored a team-high 22 points. Je’lon Hornbeak — coming off a career-high 23 points Thursday against Providence — had 14.

“We knew coming in who Je’lon was as a player. Ashlynn is just scratching the surface. I expect her to have a very great season,” Wells said.

Tori Almond finished with 23 points for BYU, which finished 3-2 in the Big East/Pac 12 Challenge.

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