“I just think we exhaled,” Ewing said of the team’s time off. “We talked about the mistakes that we’d been making. We came out and made a few of them to start the game, but we kept our composure.
“The best thing is that when we make a mistake, we don’t dwell on it. We stopped dwelling on it. . . . We kept our composure. We kept on fighting.”
Ewing had been imploring his seniors to lead the way during the season-long struggles. They took the message to heart against the Bluejays. Jahvon Blair scored a team-high 22 points to go along with seven assists. The streaky Jamorko Pickett added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The two seniors combined to shoot 9 for 14 from behind the arc and seemed to come up with a much-needed bucket every time Creighton threatened to make a run. Fellow senior Chudier Bile had a strong second half and totaled 17 points and six rebounds.
Denzel Mahoney led the Bluejays with 22 points, and Christian Bishop finished with 14. Marcus Zegarowski, the Big East’s preseason player of the year, was held to 14 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
The two teams are scheduled to play again Tuesday.
“I’m not sure if it’s my best win, but I love it,” Ewing said. “We beat a ranked team. A great team. They’re very well coached. And we didn’t back down. They made runs at us, but we didn’t let go of the rope. We just kept on fighting and [were] able to come away with a huge win on the road.”
Georgetown (5-8, 3-5 Big East) took the lead at 14-13 with a little more than 14 minutes remaining in the first half and never trailed the rest of the way.
The Hoyas took a 44-39 lead into halftime after controlling the pace of play for the majority of the first 20 minutes. Georgetown fell behind 13-10 before going on a 19-6 run to take a 10-point lead. Timothy Ighoefe had a pair of dunks, Pickett buried a pair of three-pointers and Donald Carey banked in a three from the left wing during the stretch.
Creighton (13-5, 9-4) was sloppy early with four turnovers in the first eight or so minutes, and there was no real rhythm to its offense. The Hoyas’ length seemed bothersome despite the Bluejays shooting 53.6 percent from the field in the first half and 47.4 percent overall. Fortunately for Georgetown, everything was clicking on offense; the Hoyas shot 57.1 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from behind the arc in the first half on their way to finishing 50 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from deep.
Creighton slowly chipped away late in the half before using an 8-0 run capped by a Bishop dribble-drive layup to get within three, but a buzzer-beating runner in the lane by Carey pushed Georgetown’s lead back up to five at the break.
Five quick Creighton points coming out of halftime tied the score at 44, but the Bluejays were never able to grab the lead. A 6-0 run with a drop-step layup from Pickett and a steal and dunk from Bile pushed the lead back up to 67-57, and every time Creighton got within true striking distance, Georgetown answered with a defensive stop and basket on the other end.
With 1:35 left and Creighton trailing 76-70, Blair banked in a three-pointer that may not have been out of his hands before the shot clock expired. But the basket counted, and the nine-point lead was too much to overcome in the final 95 seconds.
“This is definitely what I envisioned,” Ewing said. “I envisioned [the seniors and grad transfers] carrying our team and our freshmen getting opportunities when they can. We have a talented upper-class group of guys, and it’s great to see them being able to be successful. These guys have to carry the load.”
Notes: Bile made his first start of the season following season highs of 19 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s win against Providence. Qudus Wahab was back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the first time this season against the Friars.
Creighton wore white jerseys with pink letters, numbers and piping in conjunction with Coaches vs. Cancer. Coach Greg McDermott is a member of the Coaches vs. Cancer Council.