Creighton and Providence famously enamor themselves in rockfights whenever the two meet. That’s just a basic fact; just look at the box scores of each game since the Jays came aboard the BIG EAST TRAIN.
Perhaps it’s coaching acumen that causes the table to tilt towards garbage basketball, both suited men refusing to waver from pushing their players to put up their best defensive efforts. Perhaps it’s something deeper than that, that the black and blue they sport on their jerseys resembles their bodies once the games come to its conclusion. Perhaps it’s just the way the schedule rolls, that both teams typically come off good shooting performances against porous defenses.
That’s sort of what happened tonight. Creighton managed to build a 16-point lead with 12 minutes left in the second half. The defense, up until that point, was electric. They forced turnovers, picked apart passing lanes, and tipped lazy passes by the Friars. It was an absolute feast, but at a point the flip switched, and Providence started diving through the lane and making tough buckets.
The Friars charged back, cutting the deficit to single digits with 8 minutes left, eventually cutting it to 3 with 2:44 remaining on a trey by Isaiah Jackson. Ty-Shon Alexander hit a jumper to push it back to five with 45 seconds left. It certainly seemed like this was the dagger, that the momentum pushed the Bluejays back into winning position.
It was a winning play in winning time.
Instead, Providence flipped the script again. After Alpha Diallo bricked a three, Drew Edwards wrapped up an offensive board under the basket and tried to lay it in. Alexander got a bit of ball, a bit of hand, and sent Edwards to the line.
He didn’t miss.
Marcus Zegarowski went to the opposite end and got fouled, missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Friars had the ball in a three-point game. Jackson took the ball with a head of steam, plowed straight to the basket, and got the and-one. He cashed the freebie.
14 seconds left.
Davion Mintz was jailed with the final shot in regulation. He didn’t have any room; the Providence D swarmed him like gators going after bait in the bayou, and he proceeded to lift a shot from the free throw line.
It clanged off.
The Jays won the tip in overtime.
Martin Krampelj managed to miss back-to-back free throws, sucking the life out of the arena, causing a relative unease amongst the throngs of blue-clad fans wondering how exactly they got to overtime. Kalif Young then muscled his way to the basket and gave the Friars a two point advantage and all the momentum in the world.
Marcus Zegarowski then drove straight through the trees, put up a smooth lay-up with his left hand, and tied the game, breaking the spell of neuroses in the arena. Jackson responded by laying it in within the painted area, only for Krampelj to gain redemption and bang two freebies on the other end to tie the seemingly never ending game.
With time running low on the shot clock, Alexander banged a three to give the crowd something to lose their shit over, then picked off a lazy pass on the ensuing possession by the Friars, dunking it home and forcing Cooley to use a timeout as the nirvana of a win seemed to be in the Bluejays’ sights.
The lead grew to nine for the hometown squad as they sank free throws to end a game that was filled by more drama than a noon-time soap opera. The Jays escaped with the much needed win as the Friars were sent back to the BIG EAST cellar for the time being.