A balanced scoring attack featuring five players in double-figures vaulted the Creighton men's basketball team into the second round of the NIT with a 70-61 over Loyola Chicago on Tuesday, March 19.
The win moved Creighton to 19-14 on the season, while the Ramblers closed their season at 20-14.
Loyola opened the game with the first bucket of the game, a three-pointer from Clayton Custer, but it was the Ramblers only lead of the contest. The Bluejays answered on their first position with a trey from Martin Krampelj, followed by a seven-footer from Ty-Shon Alexander to give Creighton its first lead at 5-3.
Back and forth over the next five minutes, Creighton held a 12-11 edge before the squads exchanged elongated runs. The Bluejays raced out to a 22-11 lead with 10 straight points, started by another three-ball from Krampelj. Christian Bishop came off the bench with consecutive layup to push the Creighton edge to 19-11, then Alexander knocked down the Bluejays' fourth trey in the first 10 minutes. Loyola responded with 11 straight of its own to knot the contest at 22-22 with 7:18 left in the half. The Ramblers' surge came on a trio of shots from beyond the arc and a bucket in the paint from Cameron Krutwig.
Tied at 24-24 with just over six minutes remaining in the half, the Bluejays reasserted control with buckets from Davion Mintz and a layup by Krampelj. Up 31-29 moments later Creighton used another five point surge to claim a 36-29 edge and took a 36-31 lead into halftime.
The Ramblers shaved Creighton's lead down to three (36-33) with a layup from Aher Uguak to open the frame. Up 39-35 two possessions later, the Bluejays pushed the lead back to double-digits (45-35 with 15:36 remaining) as Mitch Ballock took control of Creighton's offense. Ballock delivered 10 of the Bluejays first 17 points in the second half.
Creighton's advantage bounced between 8-10 points for much of the second half, but Loyola closed within seven at 58-51 with 4:58 on the clock. Five straight points on a long ball from Alexander and a 15-footer by Mintz gave the Bluejays their largest lead of the game 63-51 (2:42). Although the Ramblers got within six in the final minute, Creighton closed out the win without a dramatic ending.
Krampelj led Creighton with 17 points, including 13 in the first half, while tying a program single-game NIT record with a career-high four three-pointers. Freshman Marcus Zegarowski added 12 points in his postseason debut. Rounding out the Bluejays in double-figures were Mintz with 11 points, while Alexander and Ballock each finished with 10 points.
Loyola got a game-high 18 points from Uguak, one shy of his career-high, and 17 points from Krutwig.
Creighton moves onto the NIT Second Round, where the Bluejays will face the No. 3 seeded Memphis Tigers. The day of the game will be determined following action on Wednesday, March 20.
Ticket links for round two included below:
Season Ticket Holders: GoCreighton.com/NITRound2
Public, Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday: GoCreighton.com/NITPublic2
NOTES: Creighton and Loyola have alternated wins and losses in the last seven meetings ... Greg McDermott's three NIT wins tie Dana Altman's program record for a Bluejay coach ... Creighton is now 225-50 all-time at CHI Health Center Omaha ... Creighton has won seven straight postseason home games, and 11 of its past 12 ... Creighton has won at least one game in nine of its last 11 postseason trips ... Loyola Chicago was the 20th straight team Creighton has played that is appearing in the 2019 postseason ... Creighton is 3-3 all-time against Memphis ... Greg McDermott is now 10-8 all-time in the postseason, Creighton's winningest postseason coach ever ... Loyola Chicago, which replaced Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference in the summer of 2013, is the first MVC team to play Creighton in Omaha since the Bluejays departed the league ... Loyola Chicago entered the night fifth nationally by allowing 60.5 points per game, but Creighton scored 70 points against the Ramblers ... Creighton has made a three-pointer in 849 straight games, at least one trey before half in 220 consecutive contests and five or more trifectas in 69 games in a row ... Ty-Shon Alexander had two three-pointers and now has 95 on the year, tied for fifth-most in Creighton single-season history ... Mitch Ballock, who went 11-for-12 from three-point range in Creighton's most recent home game on March 9th, was 0-for-4 from downtown ... Creighton made nine three-pointers tonight and now has drained a single-season program record 357 this season.