Doug McDermott scored a season-high 34 points and No. 13/16 Creighton never trailed in a 74-64 men’s basketball win at California on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion. Creighton improved to 10-1 on the season and is now 8-1 in the past two years against BCS teams, while the Bears dropped to 6-3 on the season.
Creighton scored on three of its first five possessions and Cal missed on its first eight shots as the Jays led 8-0 after three minutes and forced a Bears timeout. McDermott scored six of the points for the Jays.
Creighton and Cal would slug it out in a physical first half, but CU would never give up its lead and were ahead 35-29 at intermission. McDermott made his first five attempts and headed into the locker room with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Gregory Echenique had seven rebounds and three blocks in the half, as well. Allen Crabbe, who entered the game averaging 21.9 points per game, was held to two first half points on 0-of-9 shooting from the floor.
The teams went scoreless in the first three minutes of the second half before Crabbe finally connected on his 13th attempt of the game. The Jays responded with a 10-2 flurry, inclduing three-pointers by Grant Gibbs and McDermott, and led 44-33 with 14:55 to go. The Bears clawed back with the next eight points before Echenique stopped the bleeding with an offensive putback.
Crabbe would hit a tough turnaround jumper to narrow Creighton’s lead to 46-43, but Creighton then got hot from deep. McDermott, Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat nailed three-pointers on consecutive possessions as Creighton led 55-43 with 10:08 to play. A short time later, Echenique would bury his man to score inside as the Jays took their largest lead at 57-43 with 8:42 to go.
Cal steadily came back, drawing within 65-59 with 2:03 left on a Ricky Kreklow free throw. A deep three-pointer from Justin Cobbs made it 67-62 with 1:42 left. The Bears got a stop and had five chances to draw closer, but Creighton finally snared the rebound with 37.8 to play. Manigat would make 1-of-3 free throws on the next two trips, but Justin Cobbs answered with a lay-up to make it 68-64 with 23.1 left.
Creighton’s Ethan Wragge gave the Jays its first bench points of the game with two free throws with 23.1 left. Cal would miss a deep three on its next possession, and the Jays closed it out at the line with four McDermott foul shots.
McDermott finished with 34 points and nine rebounds, while Manigat had 11. Also in double-figures with 10 points were Gibbs and Echenique, the latter owning 10 rebounds. Echenique also added a season-best five blocked shots. Creighton shot 41.0 percent from the floor and made 16-of-21 foul shots.
Cal was led by 18 points from Cobbs and 14 more from Crabbe, who was hounded into 6-of-26 shooting from the floor. The Bears won the glass 53-38, but made just 27-of-78 field goals and 7-of-13 at the line.
Creighton plays its final home game before a 10-day holiday break on Wednesday when it hosts Tulsa in a 7:05 pm game at CenturyLink Center Omaha.