Steve Francis, Terence Morris and the rest of the Maryland Terrapins could hardly wait to move on.
Frenetic on offense, relentless on defense, Maryland reached the round of 16 for the fourth time in six years, beating Creighton 75-63 Saturday in the South Regional.
With animated coach Gary Williams shouting "Go! Go! Go!" at his players the whole game, they responded. Expected by many to make the Final Four, the second-seeded Terrapins built a big lead and were never threatened.
Francis, the high-flying guard, had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Morris scored 20 as the Terrapins (28-5) set a school record for victories.
"It was a good win for us," Williams said. "We got a little sloppy at the end, but we're really happy to be going to the next round."
Maryland advanced on to play third-seeded St. John's in the South semifinals Thursday at Knoxville, Tenn. The Red Storm advanced by handing Indiana its most lopsided loss in NCAA tournament history, 86-61.
"If you're going to beat a St. John's, you're to have to do it for the whole game," Williams said.
Rodney Buford had 13 points in becoming the leading scorer in Creighton history, and Ben Walker had 15.
The 10th-seeded Bluejays (22-9) managed to cut a 21-point deficit in the second half to 10 with five minutes left, but then missed three shots and never got closer.
"We got ourselves in a bad hole," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "We had some good looks early that we just didn't knock down."
|It was a lng day for Donnie Johnson and Creighton.(AP)|
This was the only second time the schools played. Maryland bounced the Bluejays from the 1975 NCAA Tournament 83-79. Billy Hahn, who was a reserve guard on that Maryland team -- now he's one of Williams' assistants -- also screamed at the Terrapins to hurry up and down the court.
Maryland, which beat Valparaiso 82-60 on Thursday night, broke away from Creighton with a 14-0 burst late in taking a 45-32 halftime lead. The Terrapins pressed from end to end, frequently tipping inbounds passes and creating a lot of loose balls.
Francis made the play of the game midway through the second half. Dribbling between his legs, he split two defenders and hit a reverse layup.
Forced to leave the game a few moments later after accidentally biting his tongue, Francis returned three minutes later and hit a 3-pointer that made it 62-41.
"A few of us may have thought we had that game won, but I knew they weren't going to go away," Williams said.
Creighton overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half to defeat Louisville 62-58 in the opening round, but could not stop Maryland. The Bluejays have not reached the round of 16 since 1974 when the NCAA held a 25-team tournament.
Maryland broke the school record for victories set by the 1971-72 team that went 27-5 in winning the NIT championship.
Buford, hampered by foul trouble, hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. The senior swingman finished his career with 2,116 points for the most in school history, topping Bob Harstad's total of 2,110 from 1987-91.
"I didn't know anything about, I didn't care about it," Buford said. "I just wanted to win. I wish I had another game left."
Lonny Baxter added 16 points for Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Donnie Johnson scored 13 for Creighton, champions of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
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