LOUISVILLE, Ky. –– The Creighton men’s basketball team’s magical run came to a dramatic end in the Elite Eight with a 57-56 loss to No. 18 ranked and fifth-seeded San Diego State on Sunday afternoon in the South Regional Final at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky.
The Bluejays end their season in the Elite Eight with a 24-13 record.
With the win, San Diego State (31-6) advances to the Final Four for the first time in school history and will battle No. 25 FAU in the national semifinals at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Saturday, April 1. A start time for the national televised contest will be announced on Sunday evening.
Down 56-54 with 34.2 seconds left in the game, senior Baylor Scheierman intercepted a San Diego State inbounds pass and put in a layup to tied the game at 56-56 with 32.4 seconds remaining. However, a Bluejay foul with 1.2 seconds left sent Darrion Trammell to the line for two free throws. Trammell missed the first one off the back iron before before sinking the second one. A baseball pass by Scheierman bounced off the hands of sophomore Arthur Kaluma out of bounds as time expired, ending the Bluejay season.
A back-and forth affair early saw the Bluejays turn a 5-4 deficit into a 17-9 lead on the heels of a 13-4 run. Back-to-back layups by Ryan Kalkbrenner sparked the surge while a pair of jumpers from Trey Alexander and Ryan Nembhard gave Creighton the early advantage with 11:32 remaining in the opening half.
San Diego State answered with a 7-2 spurt of their own on a three from Trammell and a pair of jumpers from Matt Bradley and Trammell to cut the Bluejays lead to 19-16, before a three from Scheierman and a pair of baskets from Kalkbrenner pushed Creighton’s lead back out to eight at 26-18 with 6:36 remaining in the first half.
The Aztecs, however, refused to give ground, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to level the game at 28-28 with 2:44 left, before a jumper by Scheierman and a three by Arthur Kaluma gave Creighton a 33-28 lead at the break.
Kalkbrenner led the way with 10 points, while Schiereman and Nembhard each contributed seven in the first half, as the Bluejays shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the field. San Diego State got a team-high nine points from Lamont Butler and seven from Trammell as the Aztecs shot 43.3 percent (13-of-30) from the floor.
Coming out of the locker room both teams traded blows as San Diego State hit its first three shots of the half to take a 34-33 lead. Creighton, however, answered with an 8-0 run behind a layup by Kaluma, three free throws from Scheierman and an and-one dunk from Kalkbrenner to regain a 41-34 advantage with 13:14 remaining in the game.
San Diego State responded with a 10-4 run after a flagrant foul was called on the Jays. Butler sparked the Aztecs’ surge with a triple from the left wing before a jumper from Trammell gave San Diego State a 46-45 lead with 6:45 left, setting up a dramatic finish between the Bluejays and Aztecs in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Butler led all scorers with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Trammell added 12 points for the Aztecs. As a team, San Diego State shot 37.9 percent (25-of-66) from the field, including just 3-of 13 from the three-point line. Kalkbrenner led three Bluejays in double figures with 17 points, while Kaluma and Schiereman collected 12 points each. The Bluejays shot 22-of-55 (40.0 percent) from the floor, including a 2-for-17 mark from behind the arc and 10-of-11 mark from the free-throw line.
Fans are welcome to come congratulate the Bluejays on a great season as they return to campus tonight at approximately 9:45 p.m. The team will arrive at the parking lot just south of Morrison Stadium.