OMAHA, Neb. (AP)Baylor Scheierman made back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half to give Creighton the lead for good, and the ninth-ranked Bluejays overcame cold shooting to hold off St. Thomas 72-60 Monday night.
Arthur Kaluma scored 17 points, Trey Alexander had 12 and Scheierman added 11 as the Bluejays won their 25th opener in 26 years.
St. Thomas, a Summit League member beginning its second season in Division I, started three holdovers from its Division III era and gave the Bluejays all they could handle until the last few minutes.
Just when it looked as if the Bluejays were ready to pull away, Brooks Allen hit consecutive 3s to put the Tommies up 57-56 with 10 minutes left.
Creighton finally took control at that point, with Scheierman’s back-to-back 3s and dunks by Ryan Kalkbrenner and Kaluma starting a 14-0 run while the Tommies were mired in a seven-minute scoring drought.
Andrew Rohde had 15 points, Allen 14 and Riley Miller 13 for the Tommies, who forced Creighton coach Greg McDermott to play some of his starters until the end.
The Bluejays live by the ”Let It Fly” mantra, and their 8-for-34 shooting on 3s allowed St. Thomas to make a game of it.
Creighton led by 15 points 10 minutes into the game, but the Bluejays missed five straight 3s and 13 of their next 17 shots overall, and that allowed the Tommies to pull within 37-35 and have a chance to tie it or take the lead in the final minute of the half.
Ryan Nembhard’s 3 with one second left sent the Bluejays to the locker room with a 40-35 lead.
St. Thomas: The Tommies represented themselves well in what should be, by far, their toughest nonconference game. The showing against a top-10 team on the road could foretell a better season than expected for the team picked eighth in the 10-team Summit League.
Creighton: Expectations are extremely high for one of the most talent-rich teams in the country, and now coach Greg McDermott has to figure out his combinations. They were able to get away with poor shooting against St. Thomas. That won’t work against most opponents they face.
St. Thomas plays back-to-back home games, against Chicago State on Friday and St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday.
Creighton plays the second of four straight home games against North Dakota on Thursday.
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