No. 11 Creighton beats North Dakota State 69-58 in opener

No. 11 Creighton beats North Dakota State 69-58 in opener

Christian Bishop scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, Antwann Jones fueled the decisive run in the first half, and No. 11 Creighton opened the season with a 69-58 victory over North Dakota State on Sunday.

Jones scored nine of his 11 points in succession as Creighton turned an early deficit into a lead, and Bishop had nine points in the first five minutes of the second half as the Bluejays went up by 23 points.

Creighton’s opener was delayed until Sunday because of a COVID-19 outbreak in the program. The Bluejays were originally scheduled to begin the season Wednesday at the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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Jones started his first game at Creighton in place of Denzel Mahoney, the Big East sixth man of the year last season. Coach Greg McDermott said Mahoney opted out of the game because he had missed considerable practice time. No reason was given for Mahoney’s absence.

The Bison (0-3), who shot 29% in their first two games, made 4 of its first 5 shots and led 10-4 before turning the ball over on five of six possessions.

That’s when Creighton began finding some rhythm. Jones, a transfer from Memphis, made two free throws, a layup and 3-pointer and Mitch Ballock dunked to end a 16-2 run that put Creighton ahead 20-12.

Big East preseason player of the year Marcus Zegarowski struggled with his shot. He did give the Bluejays their first double-digit lead with a 3-pointer and he made it 36-24 at half when he beat the buzzer with a jumper.

He was just 2 of 11 on 3s and finished with 12 points, six assists and a late turnover.

Rocky Kreuser had 16 points, Tyree Eady had 12 and Maleeck Harden-Hayes added 11 for the Bison.

North Dakota State ranked sixth in the nation in fewest turnovers last season but has committed 49 in its first three games, including 16 against Creighton.

BIG PICTURE:

North Dakota State: The Bison are finding their way after losing stars Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward from their 25-win Summit League championship team. They’ve opened with three straight losses by double digits.

Creighton: It took the Bluejays until the middle of the first half to hit their stride in an empty area where they usually draw crowds of more than 16,000. Jones and 7-foot freshman center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who had eight points, two rebounds and a blocked shot in 11 minutes, were revelations.

UP NEXT

North Dakota State visits No. 6 Kansas on Saturday.

Creighton hosts Omaha on Tuesday.

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