By John Fanta
PROVIDENCE — Creighton went to its calling card, the three-point shot, and it produced a Big East road win. Those are hard to come by, and yet, the Jays knocked down 13 triples en route to a 79-68 victory over Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday night.
Nine of the 13 treys came in the second half. At one point, eight straight Creighton makes were trifectas.
“Hitting 13 three’s against Providence is like hitting 30 against anybody else,” said McDermott, whose team moved to 10-4 with the league opener victory. “The ball was moving today, and that’s what Creighton Basketball is all about. We were able to create some space for those driving lanes in the second half that led to those three-point shots.”
Four different Jays scored in double-figures, with sophomores Ty-Shon Alexander (18) and Mitch Ballock (17) leading the way while junior Martin Krampelj put up 16 points and nine boards. Freshman Marcus Zegarowski added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting off the bench.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” said McDermott of Zegarowski, who scored 10 of his 12 in the second stanza.
The Friars actually led 53-52 with 11:15 to go, but the Jays outscored them from that point, 27-15. Kaleb Joseph and Alexander hit on back-to-back trey to open up a five-point edge, and after a David Duke three, Krampelj knocked down a corner trey. The next two Jays makes would come beyond the arc, as Ballock and Davion Mintz added to the barrage, making it 67-58 with 5:07 left. Ballock’s trey was one of the highlights of the day, a shot that came just before the shot clock buzzer to keep the Friars from cutting it to one possession.
“We threw in a couple lucky ones late, but sometimes you need that to go on the road and win,” said McDermott.
The Friars never found the stops they needed to rally, dropping to 10-4 on the season. Alpha Diallo led the way with 18 points to go with 10 rebounds, shooting just 4-of-11 from the field. Maliek White was a bright spot with 13 points, but the Friars shot just 40 percent on the game and 7-of-21 from beyond the arc.
For Creighton, which entered with a NET of 47, a road win in league opener carries significance for a young team’s confidence.
“Eight of our 12 scholarship players are freshmen and sophomores,” said McDermott. “I think in the Big East, when you can come on the road and win one, it’s huge. I just don’t think there’s going to be a lot of road wins in the league this year.”
The win was just the second for the Jays at “The Dunk” since Big East reconfiguration in 2013.
Creighton stays on the road, visiting Butler Saturday at Noon ET on FS1. Meanwhile, Providence will remain at home taking on Villanova Saturday
PHOTO: Ty-shon Alexander/Omaha.com