Marquette 80, Creighton 68
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Aaron Hutchins had 19 points and seven assists to lead Marquette past Creighton 80-68 in the first round of the NIT Wednesday night.
Rodney Buford of Creighton led all scorers with 24 points, but the Blue Jays (18-10) failed to hit a field goal in the last 8:28 of the game. Creighton ended its season with four straight losses.
Marquette (19-10) beat an opponent with a winning record for the first time since Jan. 29. The Golden Eagles will meet Auburn on Monday or Tuesday in the second round.
A rebound basket by Richard Shaw gave Marquette its first lead since the first half, 67-66 with 4:15 to play. Shaw’s basket was part of a 12-0 run that ended on 3-pointers from Mike Bargen and Jarrod Lovette, giving Marquette a 75-66 lead with 2:22 left.
Creighton’s Ryan Sears scored five points in a 9-2 run to start the second half to give the Blue Jays a 45-37 lead with 17:16 to play.
The Creighton advantage reached nine at 57-48, the Blue Jays’ biggest lead of the game, on a jumper from Doug Swenson. Marquette rallied, however, to improve to 18-10 all-time in the NIT.
Buford and Swenson carried Creighton through the first half, scoring all but six of the Blue Jays’ 36 points.
Swenson scored 12 straight points during one stretch, but Marquette was still able to take its biggest lead of the first half with 11:03 left as a field goal by Lovette gave the Golden Eagles an 18-12 lead.
Creighton, in its first-ever postseason meeting with Marquette, answered with a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the game. Two free throws by Buford put the Blue Jays up 24-20.
The margin increased to seven at 33-26 on a basket by Buford. Marquette, in its sixth straight postseason, got nine consecutive points from Hutchins to end the half down 36-35.