Doug McDermott had 27 points and a career-high five assists to help the No. 23 Creighton men’s basketball team to an 87-79 win over Northwestern on Thursday. McDermott was one of five Bluejays in double-figures, while Grant Gibbs dished an arena-record 12 assists for CU.
The game was played in front of 17,676 fans, the second-largest home crowd in Creighton history.
Creighton improved to 10-1 and is now 3-0 against Big Ten competition this winter, while Northwestern fell to 10-2 with the setback.
McDermott’s 27 points in 28 minutes led five Jays in double-figures. He sank 10-of-14 shots from the floor and is now tied with Weber State’s Damian Lillard for the national scoring lead at 25.364 points per game after Thursday.
Antoine Young had 13 points and seven assists, Gregory Echenique and Jahenns Manigat each scored 11 points and Ethan Wragge finished with 10 points off the bench. Creighton shot 52.6 percent from the floor and 12-of-21 from three-point range (57.1 percent).
Northwestern was paced by 34 points from Drew Crawford, which tied an arena record by a opponent. John Shurna had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Davide Curletti had 10 points off the bench.
The first half was a barn-burner, with both teams torching the nets early. Creighton owned a 17-16 lead before McDermott was whistled for his second personal foul at the 12:20 mark. He would rest the remainder of the half with nine points as Northwestern eventually opened up a 33-25 lead on the Jays.
McDermott’s replacement, Wragge, gave the Jays a boost with consecutive treys to help CU take a 36-33 lead late in the stanza. The Jays led 37-36 at the break, led by nine each from McDermott, Echenique and Young, while Crawford had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting before he sat down with two fouls.
With McDermott returning to start the second half, Creighton’s offense kicked into second gear. McDermott had the first six points in a 11-2 run that gave CU the lead. CU would go up 58-49 with nine minutes left on a corner trey by Manigat.
But Crawford re-entered with four fouls and immediately had five points to fuel a 9-0 rally that knotted the score at 58.
The comeback was short-lived, as Creighton got yet another trey from Manigat before Wragge earned a rare four-point play. Northwestern never got any closer than four the rest of the way. Twice Northwestern got within seven points, but both times reserve Josh Jones returned CU’s lead to 10 with a three-pointer.
The Wildcats never came within eight points in the final three minutes, and CU made enough free throws down the stretch to hang on.
Creighton outrebounded Northwestern 34-24, including eight each from Gibbs and Echenique, and CU outscored the Wildcats 18-9 off turnovers.
Creighton returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 28, when it hosts Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both squads. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.