Junior Doug McDermott scored a game-high 25 points, including nine of the Jays final 10, but it wasn’t enough to power No. 12 Creighton past Wichita State during a 67-64 loss in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 10,506 at Charles Koch Arena on Saturday, Jan. 19.
The loss gave the Jays their first loss in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play as Creighton fell to 17-2 overall and 6-1 in the MVC. Wichita State, meanwhile, moved to 17-2 and 6-1 in MVC action.
Interior buckets by Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall gave the Shockers an early 5-0 cushion in the opening moments. That minimal separation was enough for Wichita State to hold the Jays at bay throughout the opening half. Creighton drew as close as one at 15-14, on a three-pointer from sophomore Austin Chatman and a layup by senior Grant Gibbs, but the Shockers responded by pushing their lead to seven at 23-16 by the 10:07 mark. Down the stretch of the first half the two teams battled back and forth into the final minutes, but a trey from McDermott in the closing seconds sent the Jays into the break with momentum down 36-33.
McDermott buoyed the Jays in the first half with 11 points, but Creighton was just 7-of-13 from the line (53.8%).
Almstead and Hall continued to pace the Shockers throughout the half as the duo combined to score 21 of Wichita State’s 36 points; the rest of the team was a combined 6-of-21 from the field (29%).
The momentum of the final first half shot gave the Bluejays a boost in the second as the Jays pulled even for the first time at 38-38 behind a 5-2 run. Chatman knocked down a short jumper in the paint to open the half, then following a Wichita State bucket, McDermott drained his third trifecta of the game to knot the contest for the first time with 19:01 remaining.
The Shockers, however, scored five of the next seven to reclaim the lead and held a 51-45 edge with 14:45 on the clock.
For the ensuing three minutes the Jays’ defense took over the game, holding Wichita State without a point as Creighton claimed its first lead of the game with a 7-0 run. McDermott got the Jays rolling with a fade-away shot from the right block to make it 51-47. Junior Ethan Wragge followed with a three-ball from the right wing to bring Creighton within a point at 51-50. Finally Chatman pulled up from just outside the free-throw line to give the Jays their first lead at 52-51 with 11:29 remaining.
The Shockers rallied once again, claiming seven of the next nine including two on a flagrant foul called against senior Grant Gibbs to retake the lead, 58-54, with 7:40 left. McDermott delivered back-to-back buckets to tie the game once more at 58-58 with 6:28, but Demetric Williams and Hall answered for the Shockers to push it back to a four-point game at 62-58.
McDermott made a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. After Hall missed two free throws, Gibbs was fouled driving the lane. He made 1-of-2 free throws, and CU was forced to foul. Armstead buried two foul shots with 15.2 left to give WSU a three-point cushion.
The Jays had a chance to tie, but the Valley leader in 3-pointers, Ethan Wragge, missed an open look. The Jays fouled Hall with 7.1 left, and he missed two more. The Jays then beat the WSU press and had one final look, but Wragge’s trey from 28 feet was long.
McDermott’s 25 points led all players, while Gibbs was Creighton’s only other player to reach double-figures in points with 13. Senior Gregory Echenique led Creighton with 13 rebounds and also tossed in nine points and five blocked shots.
Wichita State had four players in double-figures, led by 16 from Hall. Armstead and Cleanthony Early each posted 13 points, while Williams closed with 10.
Creighton returns to action on Wednesday with a 7:05 pm game at Drake.