Creighton Claims CBI Tournament Opener

Oregon's Malcolm Armstead (11) and Garrett Sim trap Creighton's Jahenns Manigat, but Armstead picks up the foul. Creighton went on to beat Oregon 84-76 in the first game of the CBI Tournament finals. (Photo by Nati Harmik - AP)

The Bluejays' Doug McDermott scored 21 points as Creighton spoiled their former coach Dana Altman's return to Omaha with an 84-76 victory over his Oregon Ducks in the opening game of the College Basketball Invitational championship series Monday night.

McDermott scored nine straight points in a 12-0 run that opened a 17 point 58-41 Creighton lead four minutes into the second half. Oregon's rally got them only back within four points the rest of the way.

Joevan Catron led the Ducks with 15 points, and just missed a double double, with nine rebounds. Garrett Sim and Jay R. Strowbridge both added 14 points for Oregon, and Johnathan Loyd and E.J. Singler had 10 points more apiece for the Ducks.

The balance wasn't enough to overcome the production by Gregory Echenique, who added 15 points, and Josh Jones and Jahenns Manigat, both of whom had 11 points.

A CBI Tournament single game record crowd of 12,381 turned out, and gave their former coach a warm welcome. The Bluejays that Altman had recruited were warmed up as well, as Creighton made 9 of their first 10 shots, overcoming early three pointers by Malcolm Armstead and Singler, and the Bluejays never trailed after a 10-10 tie four minutes into the game.

Oregon, one of two teams from the Pac-10 still alive in the post season, never went away though, and bounced back from a nearly two and a half minute drought late in the second half with a 7-0 run, capped by a Catron basket that pulled the Ducks within 4 points with 2 and a half minutes left. Strowbridge cut the deficit to 4 again with a minute and a half left, but Creighton made 5 of 6 free throws in the last two minutes, to go aloong with a Jones three pointer, to pull out the win.

Free throw shooting was a key component, as the Bluejays hit 19 of 27, while the Ducks only got to the line 12 times, making 8 of them.

Creighton (23-14) faces Oregon (19-18) again Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene at 7 PM PDT, in the second game of the best of three CBI Tournament Championship series. Should the Ducks win, a third game in the series would be necessary, and would also be played in Eugene, Friday night, also at 7 PM.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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