Doug McDermott took a while to get going Saturday night, but the senior All-American delivered a deft blow in the late seconds to give Creighton the victory over Saint Joseph's in a hotly-contested battle on Hawk Hill.
McDermott hit a go-ahead two-pointer, and added a free throw seconds later, to push the Bluejays ahead with 4.9 seconds remaining in the ball game. They went on to win the game 83-79, surviving their first road test to move to 3-0, subsequently dealing the Hawks their first loss of the season.
Creighton overcame a 13-point deficit in the early goings and duked it out with Saint Joseph's for much of the second half. A late rally surged the Hawks ahead after being down 70-62 with just over eight minutes to play. Saint Joseph's took the lead off of two free throws by Ronald Roberts, Jr. with 27.5 seconds left. This set the stage for Doug's dramatic shot, a fadeaway off of the inbound pass.
McDermott's go-ahead bucket and ensuing free throw were three of his 20 points that he scored in his 34 minutes played in Philadelphia. The Hawks stifled Doug for the opening minutes, keeping him off the scoreboard but he was able to persevere, scoring 12 points on nine shots in the second half. His impact was felt elsewhere also, as the senior forward grabbed five rebounds and made five of seven attempts from the free throw line.
With McDermott silenced in the first half, Creighton had to look elsewhere for scoring options. They would not have to look too far as senior Ethan Wragge came off the bench and scored in bunches. The Eden Prairie native drilled seven three pointers on eleven opportunities from the arc, which compiled his game-high 21 points. That success from the 3-point line attributed to Creighton shooting 50 percent as a team from the perimeter. Elsewhere, Grant GIbbs stepped up as a scorer and a contributor.
In the preview, Gibbs was highlighted as an X Factor for Creighton, and the senior from Marion, IA certainly made an impact to propel Creighton over the top. He scored 11 points and was efficient on the floor, shooting at an 83.3 percent clip. The senior guard also added six assists and six rebounds to his line, in perhaps a game that could lead to him striking through his early slump.
JUCO transfer Devin Brooks fared very well against a new brand of competition. Brooks played 21 minutes and scored a season-high 16 points, while adding three assists, four rebounds and a steal. While Brooks' shooting percentage was merely 46.1 percent, he was aggressive in getting to the line, getting four trips and sinking all four shots. He also picked up a swipe on an attempted cross-court pass in the dying seconds of the game, and gave the Bluejays enough insurance with two made free throws to pull ahead.
With each passing game, the Harlem native seems to be becoming a very dangerous player for the Bluejays off the bench.
There was no slighting for Saint Joseph's, either. The team that was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic-10 gave the Bluejays everything that they had. Accumulating their largest lead at 13 in the first half, the Hawks fought with Creighton for the entirety of the contest. While the stars for St. Joe's, Langston Galloway and Ronald Roberts, Jr. got into double figures, the big player of the night for Phil Martelli's squad was freshman forward DeAndre Bembry.
Picked to be an X Factor in the preview, Bembry fulfilled the prophecy. He scored a team-high 20 points on 14 shots, and shot 50 percent from the 3-point line. That percentage accounted for second best on the night for the Hawks, as Chris Wilson, who scored 18 points, led in 3-point percentage at 54.5 percent on 11 shots. Bembry added four rebounds and four assists, as it truly was a spectacular night for the Charlotte, NC native. It could very well be a sign of things to come for the Hawks.
Creighton's rebound edge was slim, a rarity in the early goings for the Bluejays, as they only maintained a 29-28 edge in the rebound department for the entirety of the game. They were not able to find the edge in second chance points, as that was held by the Hawks, who had 16 to Creighton's five. But to no surprise, Creighton's bench dominated with the stellar performances of Brooks and Wragge, owning a 38-9 advantage over Saint Joseph's.