Joevan Catron scored 18 points to lead the Oregon Ducks to a victory over the visiting Creighton Bluejays on Wednesday night in game two of the College Basketball Invitational Championship Series. Junior guard Malcolm Armstead added 14 points, and sophomore forward E.J. Singler chipped in 10 points for the Ducks, who forced a deciding game three of the CBI Championship Series with the win. Game three of the best-of-three CBI Championship Series will also be played at Oregon’s homecourt, Matthew Knight Arena.
The homecourt advantage was slow to assert itself on Wednesday night, as the Ducks and Bluejays were neck-and-neck through much of the first half. Both teams struggled to make shots from the opening tip with Oregon failing to score until Singler made a layup some two-plus minutes into the game. While the shots may not have been falling for the Ducks, they compensated on the defensive end by forcing turnovers and contesting nearly every shot the Bluejays took.
Oregon forced turnovers on consecutive Creighton possessions, converting the turnovers into five points to take a 15-8 lead at the 10:03 mark. On the verge of being run out of the gym, the Bluejays rallied, albeit briefly, as Josh Jones drilled two three-pointers to breathe some life into the Jays. The teams traded baskets, making the score 17-16 with 6:21 remaining in the first half. That proved to be as close as Creighton would get the remainder of the game, as Oregon closed out the first half with a 18-5 run to take a commanding 35-21 halftime lead.
The beginning of the second half resembled the first half, as the Bluejays turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions of the half. The Ducks capitalized, going on a quick 9-2 spurt that Garret Sim capped with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 44-23 at the 17:53 mark of the half. Creighton Coach Greg McDermott was forced to take a timeout at that point, as the 7,875 in attendance were in full throat and his team thoroughly rattled.
The timeout proved to be of little help, as the Ducks continued to knock down shots and make things tough for the Bluejays on the defensive end. Oregon turned back-to-back Creighton turnovers - what else - into four points to take a virtually-unassailable 54-33 lead with 12:59 remaining in the game. Jay-R Strowbridge knocked down a shot form beyond the three-point arc to make the score 63-48 at the 6:42 mark, extinguishing any Creighton comeback hopes. It was cruise control from that point on for the Ducks, as the Bluejays got no closer than 14 points until Taylor Stormberg made a three-pointer with 20 seconds left, providing the final margin.
Oregon, which shot 53.4 percent from the field (31-of-58), converted 20 Creighton turnovers into 35 points. The Ducks improved to 20-18 with the win.
The Bluejays made just 18-of-43 field goals (41.9 percent). Gregory Echenique and Jahenns Manigat each scored 10 points for Creighton, which fell to 23-15 with the loss.
Game three, the deciding game in the best-of-three series, tips-off Friday night at 10:00 PM ET.