Omaha, Neb. — A balanced scoring attack featuring five players in double-figures vaulted the Creighton men’s basketball team into the second round of the NIT with a 70-61 over Loyola Chicago on Tuesday, March 19.
The win moved Creighton to 19-14 on the season, while the Ramblers closed their season at 20-14.
Loyola opened the game with the first bucket of the game, a three-pointer from Clayton Custer, but it was the Ramblers only lead of the contest. The Bluejays answered on their first position with a trey from Martin Krampelj, followed by a seven-footer from Ty-Shon Alexander to give Creighton its first lead (5-3 at the 18:00 mark).
Back and forth over the next five minutes, Creighton held a 12-11 edge before the squads exchanged elongated runs. The Bluejays raced out to a 22-11 lead with ten straight points, started by another three-ball from Krampelj. Christian Bishop came off the bench with consecutive layup to push the Creighton edge to 19-11, then Alexander knocked down the Bluejays’ fourth trey in the first ten minutes. Loyola responded with 11 straight of its own to knot the contest at 22-22 with 7:18 left in the half. The Ramblers’ surge came on a trio from beyond the arc and a bucket in the paint from Cameron Krutwig.
Tied at 24-24 with just over six minutes remaining in the half, the Bluejays reasserted control with buckets from Davion Mintz and an inside layup by Krampelj. Up 31-29 moments later Creighton used another five point surge to claim a 36-29 edge (1:29) and took a 36-31 lead into halftime.
The Ramblers shaved Creighton’s lead down to three (36-33) with a layup from Aher Uguak to open the frame. Up 39-35 two possessions later, the Bluejays pushed the lead back to double-digits (45-35 with 15:36 remaining) as Mitch Ballock took control of Creighton’s offense. Ballock delivered 10 of the Bluejays first 17 points in the second half.
Creighton’s advantage bounced between 8-10 points for much of the second half, but Loyola closed within seven at 58-51 with 4:58 on the clock. Five straight points on a long ball from Alexander and a 15-footer by Mintz gave the Bluejays their largest lead of the game 63-51 (2:42). Although the Ramblers got within six in the final minute, Creighton closed out the win without a dramatic ending.
Krampelj led Creighton with 17 points, including 13 in the first half, while Marcus Zegarowski had 12. Rounding out the Bluejays in double-figures were Mintz with 11 points, while Alexander and Ballock each finished with 10 points.
Loyola got a game-high 18 points from Uguak, 12 in the second half, and 17 points from Krutwig.
Creighton moves onto the NIT Second Round, where the Bluejays will face the No. 3 seeded Memphis Tigers. The day of the game will be determined following action on Wednesday, March 20.