PHILADELPHIA - The University of Cincinnati made it exciting down to the wire but couldn't match Creighton's hot shooting and bowed out of the NCAA Tournament with a 67-63 loss Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick, who scored 16 points in the second half, missed an off-balance 3-pointer with six seconds left that would have tied the game at 66.
The 10th-seeded Bearcats (22-12) were unable to stop Doug McDermott, Creighton's All-American. The 6-8 forward led the seventh-seeded Bluejays (28-7) with 27 points. He was also the leading rebounder in the game with 11.
See a photo gallery from the game at http://www.wcpo.com/gallery/news/news_photo_gallery/uc-loses-to-creighton-in-ncaa-tournament
UC never led in the second half and fought back from eights points down to tie it with 3:30 left. But the Blue Jays held them off in the final minute.
With 55 seconds left, McDermott was called for a flagrant foul on UC freshman forward Shaquille Thomas with Creighton leading 60-54.
But Thomas, who kept UC in the game when the senior leaders weren't scoring, missed both free throws.
Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright hit big 3s, and UC trailed 64-61 with 32 seconds left. Kilpatrick's driving layup after Cincinnati had the arrow on a jump ball cut it to 64-63 with 17 seconds left.
But after Creighton's Austin Chatman sank two free throws, UC's comeback was dashed when Kirkpatrick's shot rimmed out and the Bearcats were called for traveling after grabbing the rebound.
Creighton had an 18-point advantage at the foul line, making 22 of 25 while UC made 4 of 9. McDermott was 11-for-11 from the line. UC had 21 fouls to Creighton's 11.
UC was 5-of-20 (25%) in 3-point shooting while Creighton was 7-of-15 (46.7%).
Creighton advances to a third-round game on Sunday against second-seeded Duke. The Blue Devils beat Albany 73-61 in an earlier game.
Kilpatrick led UC with 19 points – all but three in the second half. Wright had 15 and Thomas had 12.
With UC's leading scorer held to three points in the first half on 1-of-7 shooting - and JaQuon Parker shut out - the Bearcats were lucky that Thomas stepped up. Parker got hit in the eye early in the game and missed minutes in the first half.
Creighton took a 32-27 lead at halftime with a 5-0 run in the last four minutes. The Blue Jays shot the lights out (63.2%) in the first half and that made up for 11 turnovers. UC shot poorly (36.4%) but stayed close by getting points off turnovers.
UC's shooting improved in the second half while Creighton cooled off. UC ended up shooting 42% to Creighton's 45%,
The Bearcats made McDermott work hard for shots but he still got 14 points in the first half on 5-of-8 shooting - from inside and out. But while the Bearcats were focused on bumping and pressuring McDermott, they left 6-7 junior forward Ethan Wragge wide open for 3-pointers, and Wragge drained 3-of-3 in the first half.
Thomas had six points in the first half on 3-of-5 shooting. Wright led UC with eight points and junior forward Titus Rubles had six.
Kilpatrick picked up his scoring early in the second half.
Leading 42-40, Creighton missed eight straight shots and UC had a chance to tie, but Rubles and Thomas lost the ball on consecutive turnovers. A technical foul against Kilpatrick allowed McDermott to shoot two free throws.
Thomas shook the backboard with a thundering follow-up jam to pull UC within two again at 44-42, but the Bearcats didn't get another basket for almost three minutes.
With Wragge hitting his fourth straight 3, Creighton went on a 10-4 run to take its biggest lead at 52-44 with 8:56 left.
UC kept shooting 3s and missing them. The Bearcats missed nine straight after hitting 3 of their first 5.
But just when it looked like they were done, the Bearcats came back.
Finally, with 6:05 left, Wright hit his first 3 and the Bearcats cut the deficit to 52-49.
Kilpatrick then hit two straight baskets to tie it at 54-54 with 3:30 left and set up a showdown down the stretch.
The loss marks the end of their UC careers for senior guards Wright, Kilpatrick and Parker, and also for center Cheikh Mbodj.
It also means UC president Santa Ono lost his bet with his brother, Momoro, a teacher at Creighton, and Santa Ono will have to wear a Creighton shirt or jersey on the UC campus for a whole day.
UC had plenty of fans on hand and they came to party – win or lose. Before the game, they took over the Victory Beer Hall a few hundred yards from the arena, 9 On Your Side's Bryce Anslinger reported. Even the UC pep band and cheerleaders were there.
"It's actually my birthday today so I took off work and came down, hoping for a win," said UC alum Dick Schaffner, who lives in New Jersey.
The party was organized by UC's Philadelphia alumni chapter. The chapter president,
Eric Callahan, said he moved quickly to organize the party after the tournament pairings were announced Sunday.
"About two minutes after it was announced I was on the phone with the other coordinators and getting people out here," Callahan said.
"I'm pretty excited," said UC fan Aimee Boeddeker. "I've never seen anything like this and seeing the pre-game and everything, it's pretty cool."
James Boeddeker said he enjoyed the festive atmosphere.
"We run into people with their colors and everybody is cheering as we walk through the corridors of the hotel. It's a lot of fun," he said.