E.J. Singler’s bank shot with 2.0 seconds left gave Oregon a 71-69 win over Creighton in the CBI championship game on Friday night in Eugene. Creighton had the ball for the final shot with the shot clock of, but a questionable turnover following an over-and-back violation with 17.2 seconds left gave Oregon one final chance.
The teams had split the first two games of the best-of-3 championship series, with Creighton winning 84-76 in Omaha on Monday and Oregon evening the series with a 71-58 triumph on Wednesday in Eugene.
Oregon scored the first seven points of the game and led 14-7 at the first media timeout while making 6-of-7 shots to start the game. Singler scored the first five points, and Joevan Catron also had five early points for the Ducks. Creighton was trailing 16-9 with 12:32 when leading scorer and rebounder Doug McDermott was whistled for an offensive foul, his second personal of the half.
But with McDermott on the bench, the Jays mounted a rally. A Gregory Echenique tip-dunk followed by a three-pointer from Antoine Young got CU within 17-14 at the 9:43 mark and led to a timeout from Ducks coach Dana Altman.
Creighton’s defense tightened, and Kenny Lawson Jr. heated up. Lawson hit three shots from behind the arc while scoring 11 points to get CU within 27-24. The Jays then had two trifectas to tie it, but missed both, only to grab the rebound and eventually end the long possession with a lay-up from Wayne Runnels after a nice feed from Kaleb Korver. Creighton took its first lead of the half at 30-29 on back-to-back Young baskets, but Oregon led 31-30 at intermission after two foul shots by Tyrone Nared.
Lawson and Young each had 11 points for Creighton at intermission, Lawson led the way with five rebounds. McDermott had no points and just one rebound while being limited to five first half points due to foul trouble. Creighton owned the glass to the tune of 22-13 in the first half and Oregon made just 5-of-23 shots down the stretch in the first half. Oregon was led at intermission by 10 points from Catron, while Singler added eight.
Creighton scored the first six points out of halftime, getting a three-point play by Young and a three-point basket by McDermott. But just 42 seconds later, McDermott was called for another offensive foul and was sent to the bench with the Jays up 36-31 and 18:28 left in the game.
The teams traded leads 13 times throughout the second half, with Catron doing everthing inside to keep the Ducks alive. Catron had 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, many of those coming after Gregory Echenique picked up four fouls for the Jays.
Creighton managed to quiet the exuberant crowd of 9.935 after the final media timeout. Trailing by three, Darryl Ashford sank two foul shots to to get CU within one point. After a rare Oregon turnover, CU fed Echenique inside, who threw down an uncontested dunk to give CU a 65-64 lead with 2:55 to go. Oregon answered with one free throw by Catron with 2:33 left to knot the game.
Following a Catron steal, Singler’s three-pointer was off the mark and Jahenns Manigat hauled down the board. CU then fed Echenique, who was fouled by Catron for his fourth personal foul with 1:37 left. Echenique sank both to put CU up 68-66. Oregon forced up a three-pointer by Jay-R Strowbridge that was off the mark, but Singler ripped down the rebound. On the ensuing play, Catron spun inside for his 28th and 29th points, tying the game at 67 with 58.9 left.
Creighton’s Young then fed Echenique inside, and the big man threw down a big-time dunk to give CU a 69-67 lead. Oregon tied the game when Garrett Sim scored his first points of the game with 33.3 left, knotting the score at 69. Creighton worked the ball into the front court and called its final timeout with 25.4 seconds left.
The Jays gave the ball back with 17.2 ticks left on an over-and-back violation, a near-impossible call to make due to the razor-thin line on the multi-colored Pat Kilkenny Court. Oregon worked the ball to Singler on the left side of the court. He drove against Ashford and banked in game-winner with 2.0 seconds left. The Jays inbounded the ball to Manigat, but his 70 foot heave was off the mark and Oregon won.
Catron had a career-high 29 points and was named tournament MVP. Singler had 15 points, including the game-winner. Oregon shot 48.2 percent for the game, 4-of-19 from long-range and 13-of-18 at the line.
Creighton had four men in double-figures, paced by 21 points and seven assists by Young. McDermott had 13, Echenique 12 points and Lawson 11 points. The Jays shot 48.1 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from downtown (7-20) and were 10-of-17 at the line. Creighton outrebounded the Ducks 35-25 and its bench gave CU a 23-17 edge.
This was the final game in a Creighton uniform for seniors Darryl Ashford, Kenny Lawson Jr., Kaleb Korver, Wayne Runnels and Casey Harriman. The Bluejays are expected to return 12 men in 2011-12, including redshirts Will Artino and Grant Gibbs. Creighton also signed four recruits in the fall, and has one remaining scholarship still available.