Late heroics help Creighton defeat Georgetown, ending Jays’ four-game skid in Big East

WASHINGTON — Creighton needed some heroics late in a shootout, but the Jays snapped their four-game losing streak in thrilling fashion at Georgetown on Monday night.

Sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander nailed a 3-pointer to give his team the lead with 55 seconds left, and CU then put together arguably its best defensive possession of the night on the ensuing trip down the floor to secure a critical stop.

Sophomore Mitch Ballock made all four of his free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the 91-87 victory — what could prove to be a pivotal moment for a young team at the midway point of the season. It had been 21 days since Creighton (11-8, 2-4) was last able to celebrate a win.

“We finally got rid of that four-game losing streak, we finally got confidence behind our back,” Alexander said on the postgame radio show. “It felt really good.”

Georgetown certainly did all it could to prevent that.

After CU held the lead for much of the second half, the Hoyas (12-7, 2-4) knocked down back-to-back 3s to tie the game at 70-all with 8:45 left. It was a back-and-forth affair from there.

Georgetown actually went in front 82-79 with about three minutes left. But Creighton ended the game on a 12-5 run.

Junior Davion Mintz had five of those points to keep the Jays within striking distance. With the Hoyas holding an 85-84 edge, Ballock rebounded his own miss and got the ball moving around the perimeter — Alexander was left open, and his 3-pointer made it 87-85.

Then the Jays got the stop they needed. Mintz and Ballock both cut off driving lanes on the possession before junior Martin Krampelj contested a short jumper by Georgetown’s Jessie Govan, who missed the one-handed floater.

Govan ended up scoring 22 points. As a team, the Hoyas made 12 3-pointers and they shot 49.2 percent.

But CU had enough offensive firepower to match that.

Alexander poured in 26 points — he made six 3-pointers. Mintz finished with 17 points, and freshmen Marcus Zegarowski and Samson Froling both added 11.

Coach Greg McDermott said he thought his players did the little things, too. They had a season-low seven turnovers. They ended up just minus-3 on the glass. They went 18 of 24 from the foul line. They executed decently well with two bigs on the floor at the same time, the first time they have shown that lineup in Big East play. And they made hustle plays throughout.

That’s a credit to the Jays’ character after a tough start to league play, according to McDermott. They have had the right approach these last two weeks.

“They’ve come hungry, ready to practice,” McDermott said on the postgame radio show. “They’re not pointing fingers at me, I’m not pointing fingers at them, they’re not pointing fingers at each other. They’re committed to just trying to get better every day. I think when you commit to that, you have nights like (Monday) where good things happen.”

The game didn’t exactly start well for Creighton on Monday, though.

The Jays fell behind 21-13 after nine minutes of action. They had issues guarding Georgetown’s big men. Shots weren’t falling.

But they found a way to respond. CU used a 10-3 spurt to pull within 24-23 at the seven-minute mark.

Then it opened the second half with a strong statement.

Ballock’s 3-pointer in transition gave the Jays their first lead of the game at 44-42. After Georgetown answered with a 3, CU put together a 9-2 run to jump ahead 53-47. It forced three turnovers during that stretch, leading to two free throws and a runout dunk for Krampelj.

Creighton was able to maintain some separation from the Hoyas for the next few minutes, but Georgetown eventually made a push to get back even.

CU did enough to win late, though.

“It was just a great team effort,” Alexander said.

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