No. 19 Creighton men’s basketball fell at Providence on Wednesday night, 91-87 in overtime.
The Jays (16-7, 7-5 Big East) have dropped back-to-back games and have now lost three straight at Amica Mutual Pavilion.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
All-Out War at the AMP
Every game in the Big East (outside of DePaul) is going to be a battle, and Wednesday’s loss was no exception.
The officials established early and often that they were going to let them play, whish is putting things lightly for what fans saw on the court. Every rebound looked like an MMA fight. Every catch within the halfcourt was contested. There was contact on every shot around the basket (and some of them away from the basket as well). Yet on Creighton’s end of the floor, Providence finished with 11 fouls in 45 minutes, one of which was an intentional foul-to-give at the end of regulation.
At times, Creighton did not handle the physicality well. The Jays lost out on several 50-50 balls, especially early, and committed some bad turnovers attempting to deal with Providence’s on- and off-ball pressure. Down the stretch, they settled in, fought a bit harder and gave themselves a chance.
However, the extra-possession points (points off turnovers and offensive rebounds) proved to be the difference. Creighton’s first-shot offense was far more efficient, but the Friars got more cracks at the basket.
Providence grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and converted them into 13 second-chance points (four more than Creighton scored) while forcing 12 Creighton turnovers and converting them into 15 points on the other end. Nine of those 12 turnovers were steals, most of which led to transition buckets. Creighton only scored two points off eight Providence turnovers.
Creighton shot 50.8% from the field including 48.3% from 3, hitting a Big East-high 14 triples. Just like against Butler, the way Creighton shot the ball almost always results in a win. But the margin for error in this league is too small for the Bluejays to make as many mistakes as they did.
Creighton beat Providence in Omaha largely because the Jays got the better of the matchups between Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner against Devin Carter and Josh Oduro. Both Friars won round two definitively and delivered their team a win as a result.
“It was a heck of a game,” Coach Greg McDermott said. “Obviously Josh and Devin were absolutely fantastic. We had some pretty good individual offensive performances as well. But if I’m going to point a part of the game and probably changed the game, it was the start of the second half. We had some uncharacteristic turnovers that led to run-out pick-six baskets. I think were 6-of-7 to start the second half and had a chance to stretch that lead, and instead Providence took the lead in large part because of those turnovers, and we’ve got to clean that up.”
Oduro scored nine points on 4-of-17 shooting in Omaha as Kalkbrenner made him look silly. On Wednesday, Oduro topped that output before the second media timeout, scoring 13 of Providence’s first 15 points. He wasn’t terribly efficient in the game, but the Friars continued to play through him all night and he finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, shooting 12-of-24 from the field with a 3-pointer and 7-of-8 from the foul line.
“I think he was 4-of-18 at our place or something like that, so we felt like we could guard him one-on-one,” McDermott said. “I think at halftime or right after halftime, he had 15 points but it was on 13 shots. So I wasn’t overly concerned at that point. But he certainly made some big baskets late, made his free throws and had some critical plays. Not many people do that to Kalkbrenner and he was able to do that.”
Kalkbrenner blocked three shots, but they were all in the first half, and he finished with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting while grabbing just five rebounds (though he also dished out a career-high seven assists).
Carter finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals, shooting 10-of-19 from the field (5-of-8 from 3) and 3-of-4 from the line after a bit of a slow start (two points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first 19 minutes). Time and time again, it was Carter hitting the big shot for the Friars, including a 3 for the tie with less than 30 seconds to play in regulation and another 3 that gave the Friars the lead for good in overtime.
Alexander had a great first half but shot 3-of-9 from the field after halftime to finish with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) and six assists, and he was the primary defender on Carter.
Two of Creighton’s best players lost too many one-on-one reps to Providence’s top guys.
The bright spot from the second half was Steven Ashworth. He scored just two points in the first half and played just 11 minutes, then he subbed out before the first media timeout of the second half and spent a good five minutes on the bench.
Whatever he saw or heard on the bench seemed to flip a switch in him. When he returned to the court, he went off, scoring 18 points in the last 17 minutes of the game. He hit his first five 3-pointers before finally missing one, then he threw in a sixth for good measure on what should have been a four-point play with less than seven seconds to play in OT.
Ashworth is 15-of-24 from 3 in his last three games and is back up to 37.9% on the season.
Baylor Scheierman entered Friday’s game 14 points shy of 2,000 for his career. He got halfway there in the first half despite missing four of his five 3-point attempts.
Scheierman made a mistake on the first possession of the second half as a turnover led to a Carter layup on the other end, tying the game at 33-all. He then proceeded to hit back-to-back 3-pointers before passing the 2K milestone with a layup less than two minutes into the half.
He was just getting started, though. Scheierman hit his first five shots of the second half and scored Creighton’s first 13 points. He finished with 27 points — one-upping his season high from the previous game — on 11-of-19 from the field, 4-of-10 from 3 and 1-of-2 from the line, and he also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
“Baylor does a lot of good things for us,” McDermott said. “He rebounds his position as well as anybody I’ve coached and made some big shots during the game. He got us back in the game and Steven was terrific as well, Two-thousand points at the college level, there are a lot of guys playing five, six years. I don’t care how long you play, to do it with the efficiency that he’s done it on a lot of winning teams, the guy’s a winner and that’s probably the best compliment I can give.”
Scheierman is the first player in Division I men’s basketball to surpass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 3-pointers in his career. He needs just 101 more points to reach 1,000 for his Creighton career alone.
The heavy minutes load for the Creighton starters this season has been well documented (Creighton was 353rd in the country in bench minutes heading in). Francisco Farabello has seen steady playing time off the bench, but outside of him it’s been a struggle.
Fredrick King had been the back-up five all season, but after a brutal 1:41 stint in the first half against Butler, he didn’t see the floor again.
At Providence, it was Isaac Traudt who got the call to give Kalkbrenner a breather. Traudt didn’t record a stat during his three-and-a-half minutes on the floor, but Creighton outscored the Friars by two in that stretch and more importantly, Kalkbrenner returned to the court recharged and immediately scored his first bucket of the game, sparking a 9-0 Creighton run.
Traudt sliding to the five, a position he hadn’t spent any time in practice on until the day after the Butler game, opened up minutes at the four spot behind Mason Miller. Enter Jasen Green, the seldom-used redshirt freshman.
The Millard North product played the last 3:40 of the first half and made two huge plays. He ripped the ball out of a Friar’s hands on the offensive glass, then spun around for a put-back. Then on the next possession, he flew in from the corner and skied over a Friar for another offensive rebound and put-back. Green also made a terrific defensive rotation on the final play of the half, but Carter threw in a circus shot over his head anyway.
Despite the flashes, McDermott went right back to the short bench in the second half against Providence. Neither Traudt nor Green saw the court again. Mason Miller checked out at the 12-minute mark of the second half and played a grand total of 2 seconds the rest of the way as McDermott closed with Farabello plus the other four starters.
Scheierman and Alexander both played the entire 45 minutes while Kalkbrenner played 42.