OMAHA–(CU Athletics Dec. 20)–On a night that Creighton honored former Bluejay Doug McDermott by retiring his No. 3 jersey before the game, No. 12 Creighton dropped its BIG EAST opener to Villanova 68-66 in overtime on Wednesday, December 20.
The loss dropped the Bluejays to 9-3 on the season and 0-1 in BIG EAST action, while Villanova moved to 8-4 on the season and 1-0 in conference play.
The Wildcats forced Creighton to play at their pace in throughout the game, but in the first half it worked to the Bluejays advantage. Trailing 6-3 early in the game the Bluejays forced Villanova into a 1-of-10 shooting slump, fueling a 15-4 run as Creighton grabbed an 18-10 lead. Steven Ashworth led the charge with six of his nine points during the surge. Three other Bluejays also contributed to help seize control.
Clinging to a 24-21 advantage late in the first half, Ryan Kalkbrenner led a 10-3 push over the final four minutes to send the Bluejays to the locker room with a 34-23 lead at the break.
At the onset of the second half the Bluejays extended their lead to as much as 14 points at 41-27, hitting five shots from the charity stripe. Villanova, however, regained control of the pace of play and this time it helped the Wildcats. Over the final 17 minutes of regulation Villanova methodically whittled away at Creighton’s advantage. The Wildcats shot 15-of-27 (55.6%) in the second half, eventually pulling even at 56-56 with 4:06 remaining.
The two teams each delivered two more points in the final four minutes of regulation, sending the contest to overtime 58-58, when Trey Alexander’s jumper in the waning seconds missed the mark.
The extra session saw Alexander put Creighton on his back as the Oklahoma native scored all eight of the Bluejays’ points in the frame. Villanova, however, took the lead with 28.3 seconds remaining on a corner three-pointer from Eric Dixon.
Despite three chances down the stretch, the Bluejays were unable to find the go-ahead points as CU missed a lay-up with 13.1 seconds left, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 6.1 seconds left, and a three-pointer from the midcourt logo at the buzzer.
Alexander led Creighton with 16 points and a career-best 15 rebounds for his second career double-double. Baylor Scheierman and Kalkbrenner also closed the contest in double figures with 16 points and 14 points respectively. CU shot 39.7 percent from the floor, including 5-of-24 from three-point range, while sinking 15-of-21 foul shots. The Jays had six blocked shots and five steals, but also turned it over a season-high 16 times.
DIxon led all scorers with 32 points for Villanova, while Hakim Hart contributed another 10 points. The Wildcats shot 40.9 percent for the game, but 52.9 percent after halftime. The Wildcats also had 10 steals, including four from Jordan Longino.
Off for the next 10 days, Creighton returns to action on December 30 in a road contest against No. 6 Marquette with a 1:00 p.m. start time.