The Creighton Bluejays used a late 12-2 run with four minutes left to defeat the Southern Illinois Salukis, 66-64. The Bluejays were forced into a slow pace of play, playing only 60 possessions with the Salukis. Creighton only had 14 fast-break points and only 13 points off turnovers. Nevertheless, when it mattered most, Ryan Nembhard used his heroics late in the game to hit a buzzer-beating floater and ice it for the Jays.
Southern Illinois stuck with the Bluejays throughout most of the game. Down only 4 at the half, the Salukis weathered a quick attack by the Jays early in the second half to take control of the game, burning a 9-point Creighton lead and turning it into an 8-point lead for themselves with just four minutes left. But, thanks to an Alex O’Connell three-pointer, three consecutive paint baskets by Ryan Kalkbrenner, and that aforementioned floater by Nembhard, Creighton was able to get out of the Virgin Islands with a third-place finish in the Paradise Jam.
In terms of game performance, Creighton was not stellar, but in a 60-possession game, you can’t expect the stat sheet to be stuffed. Kalkbrenner led the Jays with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Ryan Hawkins shot 3-6 from three with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Nembhard added 12 points (including the loudest two points of the Creighton season so far) to go with 5 assists. KeyShawn Feazell added a huge spark off the bench, providing 9 first-half points and a couple clean assists down low.
Southern Illinois was led by Marcus Domask and Lance Jones with 14 points each. Domask led the Salukis in assists with four, alongside Dalton Banks with four. Jones had nine rebounds, leading the team. Kyler Filewich had 10 points off the bench. The starting lineup was a bit bigger than usual; Banks and Filewich (who is relatively tall) were benched in place of J.D. Muila and Ben Coupet Jr., both taller than 6’6”. Still, SIU was on the receiving end of a buzzer-beater, something that will push them to 1-2 in the Paradise Jam.
Creighton will advance to 5-1 on the season, with Southern Illinois dropping to 2-3. CU also wins their 53rd game against the Salukis and the 11th straight game against them. The Bluejays will have a break over Thanksgiving and will be back in action against SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday, November 27th. This is a much-needed break, as Creighton has been a Big East workhorse, playing six games in a 14-day span over the past two weeks.