MEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 8 Creighton Upset by Providence in Big East Tourney Quarterfinal

NEW YORK–(CU Athletics Mar. 14)–No. 8 Creighton’s quest for its first BIG EAST Tournament title was thwarted on Thursday evening with a quarterfinal round loss to Providence, 78-73, inside Madison Square Garden. The Bluejays fell behind by 13 and would retake the lead before ultimately coming up just short.

Providence (21-12) advanced to Friday night’s semifinal against the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal game between third-seeded Marquette and sixth-seeded Villanova. With the loss, Creighton (23-9) will wait to hear its named called during the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday.

After the teams exchanged the lead three times in the opening 12 minutes, Providence built a 29-20 advantage after a 12-0 run that featured eight points from BIG EAST Player of the Year Devin Carter. It didn’t take long for the Bluejays to answer, as Ryan Kalkbrenner scored six consecutive points to bring the Bluejays within three points at 31-28. CU would trail 33-30 at the half thanks in part to 11-for-11 marksmanship from the free-throw line and a 24-20 edge on the glass.

Baylor Scheierman topped CU with 10 points and seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, while Carter paced PC with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman Rich Barron, who entered the game averaging 4.4 points per game, got the Friars off to a strong start in the second half with all of PC’s points in an 8-2 run that returned the lead to nine. PC pushed the margin into double-figures for the first time on Carter’s step-back three-pointer that made it 46-36 with 15:24 remaining. Providence’s lead would reach as large as 53-40.

Behind the play of Kalkbrenner CU made a run. The 7-foot-1 center scored seven of CU’s points in a 12-4 run that got the Jays within three at 61-58.  CU took the lead on a pull-up jumper by Trey Alexander with 5:36 left at 64-63. The teams would trade the lead six times in the next three minutes and the Friars led 70-68 with 3:24 left at the game’s final media timeout.

After making its first 20 free throw attempts of the game, CU went cold with three straight misses and baskets by Carter and Josh Oduro gave PC a 74-68 lead with a minute to go. The Jays halved the deficit with 46.6 left on a three-point play by Steven Ashworth. But back-to-back turnovers hurt CU’s comeback attempts and Carter continued PC’s perfect night at the line (14-for-14) to ice the game.

Baylor Scheierman had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Kalkbrenner contributed 19 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, becoming CU’s first duo to post double-doubles in the same conference tournament game since March 5, 2010 when Kenny Lawson Jr. and Justin Carter both did it vs. Bradley. Alexander (19) and Ashworth (16) also scored in double-figures for a Bluejay team that shot 37.9 percent form the field and made 23-of-26 free throws (88.5 percent).

Carter fueled the Friars with 22 points and 11 rebounds and Oduro had 17 points and nine rebounds. Jayden Pierre also contributed 15 points and seven assists. The Friars shot 41.4 percent from the field, won the rebound battle 40-39, and had 17 assists against five turnovers.