OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton center Kenny Lawson showed St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli that he's getting better with age.
Martelli had talked before Saturday's game about how much he admired the skills that Lawson had demonstrated as a freshman and sophomore when the teams met in 2007 and 2008.
Now a senior, the 6-foot-9 Lawson scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed a Qwest Center Omaha-record 18 rebounds to power Creighton to an 82-75 victory over Martelli's Hawks before an announced crowd of 14,345.
"He played like an old man, and I mean that as a compliment," Martelli said. "He got it going, and he played with a great deal of confidence. I liked him as a young kid, and nothing tonight changed my mind."
Lawson scored nine of his points in igniting a 20-6, first-half run that the Bluejays used to turn a 30-18 deficit into a 38-36 lead at the break. Creighton then used a second-half, three-point barrage, led by Ethan Wragge, to build a 60-50 lead.
The Hawks countered with a 7-0 run to pull within three before Lawson got going again. He scored 12 of Creighton's next 16 points to keep the Hawks from getting closer as the Bluejays snapped a three-game losing skid and improved to 5-4.
"We haven't been the tough team that we wanted to be during this losing streak." Lawson said. "I think we came out this week and we practiced a little bit harder and showed a little more toughness in this game."
Wragge finished with 22 points, making 6 of 9 three-point shots. But the difference in the game, Martelli said, might have been the play of Creighton point guard Antoine Young.
He finished with 17 points and had five assists while playing all but one minute.
"People are going to walk away marveling at the shooting of Wragge and the inside play of Lawson," Martelli said. "But Young ran that team, and he was the key.
"I thought he'd be the key coming in and he was the key going out. He has nice pace, he has good strength, and his dribble penetrations hurt us as much as anything."
Carl Jones led the Hawks, who lost for a fifth straight time and dropped to 3-7, with 17 points. His last three came on free throws after he was fouled by Young with 38.7 seconds remaining.
That got St. Joseph's within 78-75, but Creighton closed out the Hawks with two free throws by Young and two more by Jahenns Manigat.
Martelli said some of the same missteps that have hurt St. Joseph's during its skid were present again Saturday.
"You have to be real solid possession by possession," Martelli said. "We're not there yet. But if we can get out of games on the road with nine turnovers and we can make nine threes, then I'll take our chances.