The Creighton Bluejays snapped the Seton Hall men’s basketball team’s three-game winning streak on Saturday afternoon, 79-66, thanks in large part to a 30-point performance from arguably the nation’s best player, Doug McDermott.
McDermott started the game strong, scoring 11 of the Bluejays’ first 13 points, and totaled 22 in the first half. With the Pirates’ defense zoned in on McDermott, the rest of the Bluejays were able to take advantage.
With 13 minutes remaining in the second half, Pirates junior forward Patrik Auda was playing tough defense on McDermott. With the shot clock winding down, McDermott tripped over Auda’s foot. While falling to the ground, McDermott passed the ball to his left, finding an open Grant Gibbs for a 3-pointer.
This was just one of the ways McDermott wreaked havoc on the Hall.
“He just let the game flow to him,” said Seton Hall senior swingman and co-captain Fuquan Edwin. “He didn’t take a bad shot. They just ran simple plays. And he’s 6-8, too. Don’t forget that. And he’s a pure shooter, who can shoot the ball. And he doesn’t play out of control or anything like that. He takes his time.”
Head coach Kevin Willard said that game planning for McDermott is “not fun,” because he’s going to work to find himself open.
Creighton (12-2, 2-0 Big East)had three players not named McDermott in double-figure points. Senior Jhaenns Manigat had 14, sixth-year senior Grant Gibbs had 12 points, and junior Devin Brooks chipped in with 11.
The Bluejays dominated the Pirates (10-5, 1-1 Big East) in key statistical areas. They won the turnover battle, forcing the Pirates into seven turnovers while only committing four. They held a distinct advantage on the offensive glass, grabbing 11 to just one for the Hall, which led to a 19-2 advantage in second-chance points for the Bluejays.
Creighton also dominated the Pirates in the paint, 40-20.
“What killed us is that we gave them offensive rebounds,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “You can’t give a good team second shots. I think they had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and 15 points. So you give a good team eight extra shots and 15 points and we also got a little mixed up on some of our switches and stuff like that.”
While the Bluejays came together to play as a unit, the key to their victory was, without a doubt, McDermott’s performance. He also had 10 rebounds and five assists. This was the third time this season the Hall allowed a 30-point performance at the Rock.
Niagara’s Antoine Mason scored 34 in the season opener, and Saint Peter’s Desi Washington also scored 34 on Dec. 14. The Hall is just 1-2 in these games.
Sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs led the way for the Hall, scoring 17 points on 6-10 shooting from the floor. Senior Brian Oliver continued his hot streak, hitting on 4-6 3-pointers for 12 points, and Patrik Auda chipped in with 10 points.
The Pirates attempted a comeback late in the second half. Down 21 points with 11:51 left on the clock, the Pirates cut the lead to 12 with a 9-0 run without Edwin and Oliver on the floor, but Creighton held strong in the waning moments.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Pirates, who return to action on Wednesday for a matchup against No. 11 Villanova at the Prudential Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.