Kenny Lawson Jr’s dunk with 18 seconds gave Creighton the lead for good and Wayne Runnels had his first career double-double as the Jays withstood a second-half shooting barrage to defeat Northern Arizona, 74-70, on Sunday.
Creighton is now 2-0, while Northern Arizona dropped to 0-2.
Creighton got five early points from Kaleb Korver to take a 5-2 lead and would not trail the rest of the half. Leading 18-14, the Jays embarked on an 8-0 run that included four free throws by Doug McDermott and a pair of inside scores from Runnels. Creighton’s lead reached as large as 12 on two occasions, including 30-18 after a rare four-point play by Korver, before settling for a 34-25 halftime lead. Korver had nine points at the break, while McDermott and Runnels scored eight each by intermission. NAU was paced by eight points in the first half from Cameron Jones.
Creighton went ahead by as much as 40-25 and was leading 43-31 with 13:52 left before a Lumberjack shooting spree. NAU would drain three-pointers on an improbable seven straight possessions to go ahead 52-47 in front of a stunned Qwest Center Omaha crowd. The Lumberjacks were ahead by five points three different occasions, including 58-53 with 7:35 to play, before a final Creighton surge.
Josh Jones followed his own miss with a lay-up, and Runnels scored four straight points to put CU up 59-58 with six minutes to play. The Jays didn’t trail again. Up 70-68 with 1:27 left, Creighton had a shot clock violation. NAU’s Jones would miss a lay-up, only to have teammate Josh Lepley tip-in the miss to knot the score with 54.1 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Josh Jones would drive baseline and feed Lawson, who pump-faked before dunking on two defenders with 18 seconds left to give Creighton the 72-70 lead. NAU would follow a timeout by curling Eric Platt around a screen, but Platt’s shot would miss everything. Lawson chased down the airball, and was immediately fouled. He sank both shots at the line with six seconds left to ice the win.
Runnels led five Bluejays in double-figures with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Both numbers were career-highs for the senior. Korver had 12 points, Antoine Young had 11 and McDermott and Lawson both scored 10. Creighton outrebounded NAU 37-31 and shot 36.4 percent from the field, 22.7 percent from downtown and 87.9 percent at the line.
NAU was paced by 18 points off the bench from Gabe Rogers, 13 from Platt and 12 points and team-best six rebounds from Jones. The Lumberjacks hit 8-of-15 three-pointers in the second half and 10-of-24 in the game to shoot 41.7 percent from downtown. NAU shot 44.6 percent for the game overall and 76.9 percent from the line.
Creighton will return to the court on Wednesday when it closes its season-opening three-game homestand with a 7:05 pm game against Louisiana. That game is not part of the Global Sports Hy-Vee Challenge.