After taking a 33-30 lead into halftime, Creighton’s men’s basketball team fell 71-58 to TCU in the NIT quarterfinals on Tuesday to conclude their season.
TCU started the second half on a 16-0 run, while the Jays shot 26% from the floor in the second half.
Creighton held the lead for the majority of the first half, assisting on all 12 made field goals. Junior forward Martin Krampelj and sophomore guard Ty-Shon Alexander led the way with seven points each, while junior guard Davion Mintz and freshman guard Marcus Zegarowski both added six points going into halftime.
A three-pointer by sophomore guard Mitch Ballock ended TCU’s 16-0 run and trimmed the lead to 46-36. The Jays would cut the lead to 49-41, but that would be as close as they get.
The TCU trio of Kouat Noi, Alex Robinson and JD Miller combined for 31 of TCU’s 41 second half points.
Creighton finishes the season 20-15 on the year. It is the nineteenth time out of the past 21 years that the Jays have finished with 20 or more wins, one of only seven schools to accomplish this feat.
“Given everything that’s happened in our program this year with injuries and some off-court things and some really tough, heartbreaking losses, to be sitting at 13-13 with a young group and figuring out a way to dig yourself out of it is really a credit to [the players],” coach Greg McDermott said after the game.
After scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds on Tuesday, Krampelj left the game early in the second half with an ankle injury. He would not return to the game. Following this season, the junior has the opportunity to turn pro.
“Martin has a difficult decision to make. I certainly understand it. He’s 24-years-old and he’s been hurt three times with an ACL [injury],” McDermott said. “Does he want to start his professional career or does he want to come back for another year?”
With only two seniors on the team this season, Creighton will return a majority of its core. With Krampelj’s decision looming, the Jays could potentially return their top six scorers from this season.
Although the Jays season just ended, McDermott is already excited for the team’s potential next season.
“I’m blessed to be the coach at Creighton. I love what I do everyday,” McDermott said. “We’ve made some good strides with a young team and we’re going to try to take a step and get back to the NCAA tournament where we belong next season.”