Creighton found itself on the wrong end of a lot of “outs” Wednesday night against Boise State.
The No. 11 Bluejays were outhustled, outshot, out-executed, out-toughed and outcoached in an 83-70 loss to the Broncos that snapped Creighton’s season-opening winning streak at six.
Derrick Marks scored a career-high 35 points, including 18 straight at one point in the second half, as Boise State defeated its highest-ranking opponent in school history. The Broncos (5-1) had let a win at No. 13 Michigan State slip away last week but sealed the deal against the Bluejays.
“We played really well against Michigan State for 36 minutes, put ourselves in position and then didn’t finish,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “We went back and watched that film in the two days before we came out here.
“We analyzed our mistakes, and that can be painful to look at that again. But these guys are tough, and it helped them win this game.”
That toughness might have been the most important factor for Boise in pulling out the victory in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge game that drew a paid attendance of 16,364 to the CenturyLink Center. The Broncos were the ones who seemed to come up all night with the most crucial rebounds and loose balls.
“We want scrappy to be the face of our team,” Marks said. “Just be tough.”
Marks will be the face of the program if he has many more nights like the one he had against the Bluejays. The sophomore from Chicago finished 13 of 19 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. He made 8 of 10 shots from the field and two free throws in scoring all of Boise State’s points between 13:55 and 5:37 of the second half. That allowed the Broncos to build a 68-56 lead, and they appeared to be cruising when Marks made two free throws with 4:21 left to make it 75-62.
Creighton countered with an 8-0 run as Ethan Wragge made his only 3-point basket of the night, Grant Gibbs had the final two of his 17 points and Doug McDermott converted a turnover into a three-point play that pulled the Bluejays within 75-70 with 2:29 to play.
“We always feel like we have a chance to come back,” Gibbs said. “We’ve been really good in close games, and we’re always trying to attack even when we’re down.
“It just came down to getting stops, there’s no doubt about that. We cut it to five, and that kind of sealed it.”
Anthony Drmic pushed the lead back to seven when he scored a layup off a backdoor cut. Creighton’s next two misses were followed by four Marks free throws before Drmic capped a 17-point night with a layup with 12 seconds to play.
Boise State finished the game shooting 60.4 percent from the field, including 52.6 percent from 3-point range. The Broncos came into the game shooting 34 percent from the field on 3s but knocked down 9 of 13 in building a 39-33 halftime lead.
Creighton had scored the final five points of the first half to cut its deficit to six and had the ball to start the second half. But Boise State quickly regained the momentum, forcing the Bluejays into two turnovers and a missed shot on their opening three possessions of the second half while scoring on eight of its first nine possessions.
“We didn’t play great in the first half and we were down six,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I felt pretty good. and then they scored on eight of nine possessions to start the second half.
“You just have a little more fire in your belly when you’re in that situation, and we really didn’t have it tonight.”
The Bluejays never displayed the aggressiveness and intensity they played with in winning games over Wisconsin and Arizona State at the Las Vegas Invitational. And they had no answer when Marks caught fire in the second half after they had limited the Broncos’ scoring leader (16.4 average) to seven points before halftime.
“He absolutely went nuts in the second half,” McDermott said.
CU’s coach praised Rice for coming up with a great game plan and complimented the Broncos on executing it.
“We didn’t play poorly offensively, but we just didn’t have any answers for them on the defensive end of the floor,” McDermott said. “They outhustled us and they communicated better than we did.
“If you were watching that game tonight, it was obvious who the better team was. And it wasn’t us.”
Doug McDermott led the Bluejays with 21 points, while Gibbs took advantage of the Broncos’ defensive strategy to play off of him to finish with a season-high point total while adding five assists.
But no other Bluejay scored more than nine points. Wragge, who came into the game leading the nation in 3-point percentage (.583), made 1 of 5 shots from outside the arc.
The Bluejays might have been able to overcome that had they slowed the Broncos on the other end of the floor, but they never did.
“They got on a hot start and never looked back,” Doug McDermott said. “we have to do a better job of getting hands in their faces. We gave them way too many open looks.
“And we can’t allow them to beat us by 13 on the boards. They played a great ballgame, and we just have to move on.”
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