No. 11 Creighton holds off pesky Seton Hall 72-71
By ERIC OLSON
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Creighton coach Greg McDermott believes victories like the one his 11th-ranked Bluejays earned against Seton Hall can be the difference between a good season and a great one.
Despite getting outhustled and outrebounded and missing 5 of 6 free throws in the last 3 minutes, Creighton held on to win 72-71 on Sunday.
"For us to miss free throws and turn it over at critical times is not who we are," McDermott said. "But we still found a way to win, and it looks just as good on that side of the column as any of the other ones."
Doug McDermott had 29 points to become one of the top-10 scorers in college basketball history, and Grant Gibbs added a season-high 16 points as the Bluejays (23-4, 13-2) took a half-game lead over Villanova in the Big East standings. The Bluejays have won eight of their last nine.
McDermott made a free throw late in the second half to pass Alfredrick Hughes for 10th on NCAA all-time scoring chart. McDermott now has 2,917 points, and he's on track to pass Danny Manning and Oscar Robertson by the end of the regular season.
Fuquan Edwin had 21 points to lead the Pirates (14-13, 5-9), who were playing without suspended point guard Sterling Gibbs and have lost four of five.
Seton Hall stayed close until the end because of Creighton's uncharacteristic misses at the line.
"We kind of won in an ugly way," Doug McDermott said.
With 21 seconds left and Creighton leading 72-69, McDermott, an 89 percent foul shooter, missed two in a row during the same trip to the line for the first time since the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Austin Chatman fouled Edwin on the other end, and Edwin made both free throws to make it a one-point game with 8.2 seconds left.
McDermott lost the ball under the basket after taking the inbound pass, and Wragge picked it up and got fouled with 4 seconds left. Wragge, 86 percent from the line, then missed two free throws in a row for the first time this season.
Creighton survived when Edwin's desperation 3-pointer bounced off the backboard at the buzzer.
"It's very frustrating, but we've got to stay positive and take all the positives out of this game," Edwin said. "We fought hard to the last second, and that's what we've got to take from it. We just played the 11th team in the country. They're a good team, and we battled."
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said the absence of Sterling Gibbs was no factor, even though Gibbs had started 20 games and is the Pirates' second-leading scorer. Gibbs was suspended for an attitude issue and he could be back for Tuesday's game at DePaul.
"Sterling is flying into Chicago right now, and I'll sit down with him tonight and we'll figure out if he wants to have the same attitude these guys have and he'll be back," Willard said. "It's quite simple."
Jaren Sina started in Gibbs' place and had five points and three assists. Seton Hall's 6-foot-9, 270-pound Eugene Teague was a tough matchup for the Bluejays, and he made 6 of 8 shots and scored 14 points.
"They're much different without Gibbs," Greg McDermott said, "and in some ways that was more difficult for us because of their determination to throw the basketball inside as much as they did. It seemed like they haven't given teams as steady a diet of Teague as they did us."
Seton Hall came most of the way back from a 10-point deficit early in the second half. Edwin's pull-up jumper trimmed Creighton's lead to 64-63 with 5:45 left. That was the Pirates' last field goal, but they made all eight of their free throws the rest of the way.
"We got to that eight-point mark a ton of times and that's when we had a little slippage where there was a (Seton Hall) offensive rebound or not closing on a shooter," Grant Gibbs said. "We've got to continue to tighten up those facets of the game. Credit them, they took advantage of those opportunities."
McDermott looked motivated coming out of halftime, scoring 13 points in less than 7 minutes. He opened the half with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and, after getting popped in the chin while reaching for an entry pass, he scored on a left-handed finger roll where the ball spun upward on the rim and dropped in.
Moments later, when Isaiah Zierden missed a 3 from the corner, McDermott moved in under the basket, tipped the ball straight up as it came off the rim and then went back up to tip it in for a 52-44 lead.
"It's frustrating at times to lose," Sina said, "but at the same time, I just think we've got to continue to keep getting better and prepare for the Big East tournament."
Updated February 23, 2014