OMAHA–(CU Athletics Feb. 13)–Marcus Zegarowski and Mitch Ballock combined for 45 points and Christian Bishop and Damien Jefferson each had double-doubles as No. 19 Creighton played its most complete game in a month in an 86-70 win vs. No. 5 Villanova on Saturday.
Creighton improved to 16-5 overall (12-4 BIG EAST) with its sixth win in its past seven games while narrowing the gap behind league-leading Villanova (13-3, 8-2 BIG EAST).
Zegarowski had 17 points and Bishop 10 more in the first half as Creighton took a 42-36 lead into the intermission. CU trailed for the game’s first eight minutes before back-to-back triples by Zegarowski and Ballock gave CU a 21-17 lead it would never surrender. The Jays led by as much as 10 (42-32) in the opening half before settling for the six-point halftime edge.
An 8-0 run early in the second half featuring three-pointers by Ballock and Denzel Mahoney pushed the Bluejay advantage to 54-41, and a 10-0 spurt minutes later that included two more Ballock trifectas advanced the lead to 64-45.
Creighton’s lead would grow as large as 21 on two occasions before Nova ended the game with eight of the final 11 points.
Zegarowski’s 25 points were a season-high for the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year, and Ballock’s 20 points came on 6-for-8 shooting from downtown. Jefferson added 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Bishop posted his second straight double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Creighton made 59.3 percent of its shots from the floor and 12-of-26 three-pointers (46.2 percent). The Jays overcame an early rebounding hole to win that category 33-31, and also had 16 assists against just nine turnovers. Creighton outscored Nova 36-20 in the paint.
Justin Moore paced the Wildcats with 21 points and Jermaine Samuels added 16 points and blocked two shots. All-America candidates Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl both scored eight points on combined 6-for-25 shooting. The Wildcats shot 37.5 percent for the game and were 10-of-32 from deep. VU also had a 17-6 edge in second chance points.
Creighton returns to the court on Feb. 24th when it hosts DePaul at 8 p.m. Villanova hosts UConn next Saturday.