Creighton men’s basketball wrapped up the year with a loss to Gonzaga Bulldogs, but the Bluejays made it the sweetest season yet.
Junior guard Marcus Zegarowski walked away from the season proud and appreciative.
After the team’s final game, Zegarowski shed light on what this season was like, as the Bluejays never missed a game and made many sacrifices.
“We’d be in hotels for 20 hours of the day,” Zegarowski said. “We wouldn’t go outside for a few days. It was a grind, but I wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of guys.”
Before the Jays could take the court in Indianapolis, they had to quarantine.
Senior guard Mitch Ballock brought his Xbox and spent his free time playing video games with the team.
“Everyone is in the same situation, but if you can find some bright spots and positivity in it then the better off you are,” Ballock said.
After many days of sitting around, the Jays would finally get to play. Leading up to the NCAA Tournament, Creighton was ranked No. 19 overall and faced UCSB in the first round.
Leading up to the game coach Greg McDermott said “We’ll have our hands full, but were excited for a week of preparation, and I know the guys are thrilled to take the court.”
Creighton held on to beat UCSB 63-62 Creighton.
After the close game, McDermott said he was proud of the team, and he gave a lot of credit to junior forward Christian Bishop for stepping up in the tight game.
Bishop knocked down two free throws with 16 seconds left, putting the Bluejays ahead.
“Everybody is really excited, but then we just regrouped,” Bishop said.
Creighton then faced Ohio in the second round. The Bluejays used a 25-3 run in the first half to build a good cushion. The final score was 72-58, advancing the Bluejays to the Sweet 16.
“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” Zegarowski said. “We worked–this is a two-year kind of thing for us. We got it taken away from us last year, and everything we’ve been through this year is for moments like this.”
Last year the Bluejays’ Big East tournament game against St. John’s was canceled at halftime.
After being robbed of last season, Zegarowski said, “you know, we’re not done yet,” referring to the next matchup against undefeated Gonzaga.
Creighton advanced to the Sweet 16 for only the third time in program history–and the first under the current tournament format. Gonzaga led the entire game, and the Jays could not close the gap.
Despite the 18-point loss, 83-65, there were a lot of positives the team reflected on.
“I’m just so, so proud of everybody involved,” Zegarowski said. “It was such a tough year.”