Creighton drops season opener at Dayton

Creighton built a 10-point first half lead, but in the end it was the No. 21 Dayton men’s basketball team that emerged from a sold-out UD Arena to defeat the Bluejays, 90-80, before 13,435 fans.
The game was the season-opener for both teams, but the energy and emotion in UD Arena was befitting of the NCAA Tournament, which hosts games annually at the 40-year old basketball shrine.
Creighton’s streak of 12 straight season-opening wins was snapped as Dayton tied a school-record with its 21st straight home win. UD has also won 28 straight non-conference home games and snapped CU’s attempt to win six straight true road games for the first time since 1975.
After an early 11-6 deficit, Creighton would lead most of the first half. A pair of Darryl Ashford free throws gave CU its first lead at 12-11, and a rare four-point play by P’Allen Stinnett a short time later extended CU’s lead to 24-18. The Bluejay lead reached double-figures for the first time at 35-25 after back-to-back scoring moves inside by Wayne Runnels.
The Bluejays took a 46-41 lead into the locker room, keyed by 12 points from Stinnett and Runnels. Creighton shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes (15-27) while also making 12-of-16 at the line. On the other end Dayton shot 43.2 percent (16-37) and just 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) behind the arc as CU dared the Flyers to shoot over CU’s zone.
Dayton scored on seven of its first eight possessions, including three trifectas, of the second half to take a 58-52 by the first media timeout of the second half. The Flyers remained in control until a mini-Bluejay run gave them a 63-62 on the first of consecutive dunks by Kenny Lawson Jr.
The Flyers would slowly pull away, scoring at nearly every opportunity. Wooden Award candidate Chris Wright, who was held to eight points in last year’s CU win, had seven points during Dayton’s 12-7 run that pushed its lead to 85-78 with 1:56 to go. A basket by Marcus Johnson with 1:05 left gave UD an 87-78 lead.
The Jays did close within 87-80 on a Cavel Witter steal and score with 16.5 seconds left, but would not get any closer.
Creighton placed five men in double-figures, led by 18 points from Stinnett and 16 from Runnels. Ashford had 13 points, Ethan Wragge 11 and Witter 11 points in the defeat. Runnels led CU with nine rebounds. Creighton shot 48.3 percent for the afternoon, and was 8-of-23 from downtown.
UD was led by 25 points from Wright and Chris Johnson chipped in with 18 points and 15 rebounds off the bench. Dyaton shot 56.3 percent in the second half and 49.3 percent in the game, outrebounding CU 39-33 overall.
Creighton returns to Omaha for its home opener on Tuesday against Florida A&M. Tip-off is set for 7:05 pm.
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