Sophomore Will Artino tied a career-high with 13 points and in a career-high 17 minutes to lead the Creighton men’s basketball team to a 59-45 win over Southern Illinois on Tuesday. The win lifted Creighton to 22-6 on the season and 11-5 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
The Jays created some early separation in the opening seven minutes, racing out to a 12-2 lead. Four Bluejays scored during the run, including three-pointers from juniors Ethan Wragge and Jahenns Manigat, but the real key was the Creighton defense. The Jays held Southern Illinois to just 1-of-10 shooting (.100) in the opening seven minutes.
The Salukis chipped away at the Creighton lead throughout the half, but the Bluejays refused to relinquish their edge, taking a 28-22 edge in at the break.
Creighton’s lead hovered near six through the opening portion of the second half when the Jays got a boost from the bench. Leading 35-31 with 13:56 remaining, Artino delivered back-to-back buckets on the block. Freshman Nevin Johnson followed with two free throws to push the Jays advantage back to double-digits for the first time since Creighton led 12-2. The Bluejays never allowed the Salukis back within striking distance, Artino punctuated the evening with a layup in the final minute to give Creighton its largest lead of the night at 59-45.
Artino and senior Grant Gibbs led all scorers with 13 points, while junior Doug McDermott finished with 10 points. McDermott also led Creighton on the boards with seven rebounds. Despite a season-low two three-point field goals, the Jays made shot 51.3 percent from the field overall and outscored SIU at the charity stripe, 17-6. Creighton also won the battle of the boards 31-27 to help offset SIU’s 13-4 edge in second-chance points.
Creighton returns to the court on Saturday at 5 pm Central when it takes on Saint Mary’s in a BracketBusters contest that will air nationally on ESPN.