OMAHA, Neb. — The Creighton men’s basketball team overcame an early nine-point deficit to defeat North Florida, 76-67, to close out the Omaha portion of the 19th Annual Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Sunday.
Marcus Zegarowski had 19 points and Ty-Shon Alexander added 18 for the Bluejays (4-1), who trailed 36-31 at the break. Junior guard Mitch Ballock recorded his first career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while classmate Damien Jefferson wrapped the game with a dozen points.
North Florida was topped by Carter Hendricksen’s 19 points and eight rebounds, while Wajid Aminu added 17 points and nine rebounds. The Ospreys led the nation with 13.7 three-pointers per game entering the day, but shot 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) from deep and made just 3-of-9 three-pointers after halftime.
Jefferson scored CU’s first four points and Creighton was ahead 6-2 before the visiting Ospreys unleashed a 15-2 spurt that gave CU its largest home deficit of the season. The Jays drew within one at 32-31 with 81 seconds left in the first half before UNF’s Wajid Aminu scored the next four points to extend the lead to five at the break.
Creighton turned up the defensive intensity and dominated the backboards after intermission, and it paid immediate dividends. The Jays opened the second half with a 25-8 flurry that included three trifectas from Alexander and one each by Ballock and Zegarowski. The lead remained safe the rest of the game, with UNF getting as close as 74-67 with 43 seconds left before Ballock iced the game with two foul shots.
Creighton returns to action on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. CST when it takes on San Diego State at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.