OMAHA, NEB. — Four men scored in double-figures as the No. 11 Creighton men’s basketball team opened its season with a 69-58 win over North Dakota State on Sunday, Nov. 29.
The win moved Creighton to 1-0 on the season with its 26th straight win in a home opener, while North Dakota State fell to 0-3.
Earning the start in his Creighton debut, Antwann Jones provided a spark early with nine consecutive Bluejay points to push Creighton out to its first lead. The Bluejays trailed 10-4 early before senior Mitch Ballock connected from just inside the arc to begin a 16-2 run. Ballock’s jump shot pushed the Kansas sharpshooter over 1,000 points in his Creighton career. Sophomore Shereef Mitchell followed with a trey from the corner to make it 10-9, which set the stage for Jones. The Florida native delivered a driving layup to put the Bluejays up 11-10. After the Bison reclaimed the edge with an interior bucket, Jones scored the next seven points of the contest. Ballock capped the run with a three-pointer from the right wing to put Creighton up 20-12, and CU would not trail again.
The Bluejays pushed their advantage to 27-16 with 5:50 remaining on a mid-range jumper from Jones, then extended the edge to 12 in the closing seconds of the half on a jumper from junior Marcus Zegarowski to send Creighton into the locker room up 36-24.
While Jones was the spark for the Bluejays in the first half, junior Christian Bishop stepped forward in the second half with 13 of his game-high 16 points in the final 20 minutes. Bishop scored the Bluejays’ first seven points in the second half, helping to push Creighton’s lead to as much as 47-28 with 16:18 left. CU’s lead remained in double-figures the rest of the afternoon.
Creighton continued to move the ball around, racking up 10 assists on 14 made baskets in the second half to coast to the victory.
Bishop’s 16 points led the way for Creighton, while Zegarowski (12 points), Jones (11) and Ballock (11) also reached double figures. Zegarowski dished six assists, and Ballock snared a team-leading seven rebounds. Creighton had 18 assists on 27 baskets and just four turnovers in the game. CU owned a 13-2 lead in fast break points.
North Dakota State closed the game on a 14-2 run, getting 16 points from Rocky Kreuser, 12 from Tyree Eady and 11 by Maleeck Harden-Hayes. Lincoln native Sam Griesel led all players with nine rebounds and topped the defending Summit League champions with four assists as well. NDSU won the rebound battle, 41-27.
The Bluejays return to the court on Tuesday, Dec. 1 as Creighton hosts crosstown rival Nebraska-Omaha at 4:00 pm at CHI Health Center Omaha.
NOTES: The win was Greg McDermott‘s 19th straight in a season-opener … Creighton has made a three-pointer in 883 straight games, and a triple before halftime in 254 consecutive contests … Creighton has won 117 straight home games against teams who are .500 or worse entering the game … Mitch Ballock’s 11 points today give him 1,007 career points, moving past Anthony Tolliver (1,004) and Gregory Echenique (1,006) for 41st in Bluejay history … Today was Ballock’s 100th collegiate game … NDSU coach David Richman was a student assistant for Creighton coach Greg McDermott at North Dakota State in 2000-01 … Creighton is now 10-0 all-time against North Dakota State, though Sunday’s meeting was the first between the schools since 1975 … Creighton is now 23-1 in its last 24 season-openers at all sites … The November 29 season-opener was Creighton’s latest since 1993-94 … Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only limited amounts of family members and staff were permitted. The crowd was announced as 252 … Jacob Epperson made his first appearance in a game in 716 days (since Dec. 14, 2018), finishing with two blocked shots in eight minutes of work … In addition to Jones, Creighton also had three true freshmen make their Creighton debuts as Sami Osmani, Devin Davis and Ryan Kalkbrenner combined for eight points, two rebounds and a blocked shot.