• Box Score
• Photo Showcase: Creighton 82, Bradley 71
• Video: See video highlights from Saturday's Creighton-Bradley men's basketball game. See video from the postgame press conference below the story:
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At least Creighton won't lack for confidence next week as it opens the win-or-go-home portion of its basketball season.
The Bluejays beat Bradley 82-71 on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Qwest Center Omaha, getting key 3-pointers down the stretch from seniors Cavel Witter and Justin Carter to extend several notable streaks.
And in 80 minutes against the Braves this season, CU has never trailed.
Guess who's up next for Creighton? Another meeting with Bradley. The Jays and Braves play Friday at 2:30 p.m. in a quarterfinal matchup at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, with CU as the fourth seed in St. Louis and Bradley in the No. 5 position.
“They'll change some things up,” Creighton coach Dana Altman said. “We'll change some things up. There's not a lot of secrets. It wouldn't matter who we're playing. We had the same scenario two years ago. That game could have gone either way.”
Indeed, it is a repeat scenario from 2008, when the Jays beat Bradley in double overtime to end the regular season and ousted the Braves from the conference tournament with a four-point win before losing in the semifinals to Drake.
This time, Creighton (16-14, 10-8 MVC) finished things in regulation after hot starts to both halves. Before a crowd of 15,169 in the regular-season finale, CU reached 10 wins in the Valley for the 14th consecutive year - bettered nationally only by Kansas' streak of 15.
CU also rides its first three-game winning streak of the year into St. Louis after failing four times to win more than two straight. Additionally, it kept alive bids to win 20 games for the 12th straight year and qualify for a 13th consecutive postseason.
“It's Creighton basketball,” Carter said. “We always talk about streaks and winning.”
Leading 33-32 at halftime, Creighton used a 20-6 run at the start of the second half to build a seemingly comfortable 53-38 lead.
But as the Jays have displayed repeatedly, nothing is safe this season.
Bradley (15-14, 9-9) stormed back behind an outburst from sophomore forward Taylor Brown, who scored a career-best 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting. His 3 from the wing made it 66-62 with five minutes to play.
Witter, who scored 42 two years ago on Senior Day against Bradley, answered with a quick 3 - one of his two field goals in an 8-point performance.
“We caught them in transition,” Altman said. “They got a little confused. He got a wide open one and knocked it down.”
After Bradley freshman Dyricus Simms-Edwards hit a jumper, Carter buried a 3 from the baseline, assisted by Witter. Simms-Edwards then missed, and Kenny Lawson sank two free throws with 4:17 left to make a it a 10-point CU lead again.
The Jays shot 58.3 percent from the field in the second half and 51 percent (25 of 49) for the game. Lawson led Creighton with 20 points. Carter scored 17, and freshman Ethan Wragge had 12 on four first-half 3-pointers.
“Our defense all night let us down,” Bradley coach Jim Les said. “We had numerous breakdowns and got away from some of our schemes. On the road in this building, it left a lot to be desired.”
Likewise, Altman was not pleased with Creighton's defensive play. In particular, he said, he was disappointed with the Braves' 32-18 advantage on points in the paint.
“We've got to get some things shored up,” the coach said.
He said he liked the Jays' 23-of-26 showing from the free-throw line and their 32-30 rebounding edge.
“I think we've got a little momentum going now to take to St. Louis,” Altman said.
And really, isn't momentum most important in March?
“Going into the conference tournament hot is a key,” Witter said. “It's not really about who's got the highest seed or the who's got the best team. It's about who can catch fire at the right time.
“So I think winning three games gives us confidence, big time, to go in there and cause some damage.”
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• Video: Creighton coach Dana Altman at the postgame press conference:
• Video: Creighton seniors at the postgame press conference: