Hitting five 3-pointers in a seven-possession stretch midway through the second half, Creighton opened Big East Conference play Monday with an attention-grabbing 79-68 win over Providence at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
Four players finished in double figures for the Bluejays (10-4, 1-0), led by Ty-Shon Alexander’s 18 points. Mitch Ballock sank five 3-pointers and scored 17, while Martin Krampelj chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Zegarowski came off the bench to add 12 points.
Creighton was picked ninth in the Big East preseason poll while the Friars were tabbed third, but the Bluejays looked like the contenders on this day. Creighton drilled 9 of 15 3-pointers in the second half, going 13 of 29 for the game, and trailed for just 4:47.
Alpha Diallo paced Providence (10-4, 0-1) with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, but made only 4 of 11 shots from the field. Maliek White added 13 points, David Duke hit for 11 and Makai Ashton-Langford tallied 10 in a reserve role before fouling out.
Trailing 53-52 after a four-point play by Diallo with 11:15 left in the game, the Bluejays got 3-pointers from Kaleb Joseph, Alexander, Krampelj, Ballock and Davion Mintz in a 4:55 span. That gave them a 67-58 lead, too great for the Friars to overcome.
The teams each sputtered coming out of the gate, with Providence leading 5-2 at the first TV timeout, 4:30 into the game. Creighton finally found some footing and ended up playing with the lead for most of the half’s remainder.
The Bluejays rattled off eight straight points for a 10-5 lead, capped off by Ballock’s transition 3-pointer at the 13:59 mark. But the Friars reeled them in, taking a 22-19 edge as Ashton-Langford nailed a 3-ball with 7:07 left in the half.
However, Creighton scored the next nine points for a 28-22 advantage, Christian Bishop finishing the run with a free throw with 3:40 remaining. Providence twice closed within a point, but Zegarowski converted a layup 25 seconds before the break to give the Bluejays a 34-31 lead to halftime.
—Field Level Media