No. 23 Creighton beats Northwestern 87-79By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Dec 22, 2011
McDermott scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half and the No. 23 Bluejays defeated a Big Ten opponent for the third time this season with an 87-79 victory Thursday night.
McDermott was on the bench for the last 12 minutes of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
“It’s like the longest 12 minutes there is when you’re in foul trouble and you can’t do much about it,” McDermott said. “All you can do is cheer on your teammates. The second half I was in there the whole time, and it felt good. I definitely really wanted to win that game.”
McDermott’s performance trumped that of Northwestern’s Drew Crawford, who scored 34 points to tie an opponent record at the CenturyLink Center.
“This was a big game for us, especially for kind of proving ourselves,” Crawford said. “Creighton is a tough team. It was really a test for us on the road, so we wanted to come in and win it. It’s tough to go away from this one with a loss.”
Jahenns Manigat rattled in a 3-pointer from the corner to break a 58-all tie. JerShon Cobb committed a turnover on the other end then fouled Ethan Wragge as he made a 3. Wragge converted the four-point play for a 65-58 lead.
Antoine Young scored 13 points, Gregory Echenique and Manigat had 11 apiece, and Wragge added 10 for Missouri Valley Conference favorite Creighton (10-1), which also has wins over the Big Ten’s Iowa and Nebraska.
“Anybody who likes offense probably enjoyed that game, especially in the first half,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “We didn’t have an answer for them. They scored on 11 of 16 possessions to start the game. The big difference was that they scored on two of 11 to start the second half.”
John Shurna had 18 points and Davide Curletti added 10 for Northwestern (10-2), which was off to its second-best start in program history.
“It was big to finish off our nonconference here and head into break,” said Grant Gibbs, who had 12 assists for the Bluejays. “Any time we can get a quality win against an opponent like Northwestern at our place, we have to take advantage of it, and we were fortunate.”
McDermott scored 11 points during a 16-5 run that put the Bluejays ahead 55-47 with 9 minutes to play.
Most of the Bluejays’ spurt came with Crawford on the bench after he committed his fourth foul with 14:35 left. He returned 6 minutes later and scored five quick points to get the Wildcats back within 58-56, and Cobb’s free throws tied it 58-all.
Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said he regretted not letting Crawford stay in the game after he committed his fourth foul.
“It’s tough to waste a night like he was having, not winning, because he was making long shots, going inside and making some in-between shots,” Carmody said. “It seemed like he and McDermott were going back and forth for a little bit. Maybe I should have just played him and just said to heck with it.”
Manigat’s 3-pointer, which bounced off the rim and backboard before dropping through, gave Creighton the lead for good. Josh Jones’ 3 gave the Bluejays their biggest lead, 75-68, with 4:35 left.
Doug McDermott, coming off a career-high 35 points against Tulsa on Monday, is the first Creighton player in more than 30 years to score 20 or more points in 10 straight games. According to STATS LLC, he’s the nation’s only player with four straight games of 24 points or more.
Creighton avenged a 65-52 loss at Northwestern last season.
The Bluejays have scored 70 or more points in all 11 games, their longest such streak since the 1970-71 team opened with 17 straight games with 70 or more.
With Crawford leading the way, Northwestern shot 70 percent (16 of 23) over the first 15 minutes of the game and used an 8-0 run to go up 33-25.
“We didn’t have an answer for them,” Greg McDermott said.
The Bluejays battled back and led 37-36, holding the Wildcats scoreless on seven straight possessions and ending the half on a 12-3 run. Young started Creighton’s rally with a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer, and Wragge followed with back-to-back 3s.
Conspicuously absent was McDermott, but the Bluejays were able to hang in the game without him until he returned.
“We’ve talked all along about how different teams are going to take away different stuff and we’re going to have to play without Doug at times,” Gibbs said. “Guys stepped up and we went right along with our game plan.”