MILWAUKEE, Wis. — The No. 15 Creighton men’s basketball team ended the first half on a 13-2 run and did not trail in the second half as the Bluejays defeated Marquette 71-68 on Saturday at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
The Bluejays recorded their 10th BIG EAST victory of the season and improved to 14-5 overall (10-4 BIG EAST), while Marquette dropped to 9-10 overall and 5-8 in league play. The CU victory also avenged a December loss in Omaha against the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles had an opportunity to tie the game in the closing moments of the game, but a contested three-point attempt by Koby McEwen rolled off the rim and defensive specialist Shereef Mitchell snagged the rebound as time expired. Mitchell locked down Marquette’s D.J. Carton on the final possession after Carton hit consecutive three-pointers on the Golden Eagles’ previous two offensive trips.
Carton’s step-back three-pointer with 45.1 seconds remaining cut Creighton’s lead to a single possession at 68-65.
Denzel Mahoney made a pair of free throws to extend the Bluejays’ edge to five points but Carton hit another triple to trim Creighton’s lead to only two points, 70-68, with 35.9 showing on the clock.
Zegarowski made 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to make it a three-point edge before the Bluejays’ defensive stop sealed the victory.
Christian Bishop led the Bluejays with 14 points as four different players posted double-figures for Creighton.
The Bluejays finished the game with a 19-4 edge in second-chance points and posted a 38-26 advantage in rebounds, including an 11-4 margin in offensive rebounds.
Creighton used a 13-2 run to take a 38-33 lead at halftime. Marquette led 31-26 with 3:20 remaining in the opening 20 minutes before Alex O’Connell knocked down consecutive three-pointers to tie the game at 31. The Golden Eagles regained the lead with a pair of free throws after O’Connell received a technical foul following his second trey, but the Bluejays closed the first stanza with the final seven points, including four on a pair of jumpers from Zegarowski. The junior point guard led Creighton with 10 points in the first half.
Ryan Kalkbrenner scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the first half. The freshman did not score during Creighton’s last game (Wednesday vs. Georgetown) and was limited to only five minutes of action during the first meeting between the Bluejays and Golden Eagles earlier this season in Omaha. He ended the game with 11 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of court time on Saturday evening.
Marquette’s Jamal Cain opened the scoring to start the second half but Creighton built the first double-digit lead of the game after a layup by Damien Jefferson on a long outlet pass by Mitch Ballock gave the Bluejays a 49-39 edge with 14:12 to play.
Kalkbrenner’s dunk with 12:52 to play gave Creighton a 51-39 lead, its largest advantage of the game, as the Bluejays used a 25-7 run spanning halftime to erase Marquette’s largest lead (31-26).
The Bluejays led by at least six points until the final minute of action during the Golden Eagles’ late comeback effort.
Marquette started the contest 8-of-12 from the field to take a 21-16 lead after nine minutes, but ended the opening half by making only four of its final 12 shots and closed the game shooting 46.2 percent from the field (24-of-52).
Carton paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points, while Cain had 14 and Theo John added 10.
Creighton returns to the court on Tuesday night for a contest in Washington, D.C. against Georgetown that tips at 8 p.m. Central