Dunn beats buzzer, gives No. 12 Friars 50-48 win over Jays
Dunn hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer and scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half as the 12th-ranked Friars overcame their worst shooting of the season to defeat the Bluejays 50-48 on Tuesday night.
''Really, it was about getting the ball into the best player on the court's hands and letting him make a play,'' Providence associate head coach Andre LaFleur said.
The Friars (15-2, 3-1 Big East) took their first lead with under 5 minutes to play after trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half.
The teams combined to shoot an icy 27.5 percent in what, according to STATS LLC, was only the fourth Division I game this season in which both teams shot under 30 percent.
Maurice Watson tied it 48-48 with 11.2 seconds left after stealing the ball from Dunn on the other end for Creighton (12-6, 3-2).
Dunn brought the ball up on the final possession. With Khyri Thomas defending, the Providence star stepped back and let go a 17-footer from the left wing that hit the back of the rim, stopped dead and dropped in.
''Really, I worked on that (shot) throughout the whole season,'' Dunn said. ''Really just have to appreciate the guys for believing in me and God for letting the ball go through.''
''We didn't score a lot of points. Both teams were in it. But we were able at the end of the game,'' said LaFleur, sitting next to Dunn at the postgame news conference. ''We had our leadership. This guy right here we think is the best in the country, and he came through and put us on his back with Ben.''
The Friars warmed up at the right time, with Dunn and Bentil hitting consecutive 3s to tie it 43-all, and Bentil's dunk gave them a three-point lead with 1:47 to play.
After James Milliken made one of two free throws to pull the Bluejays within two, Watson stole the ball from Dunn and scored the tying basket. Dunn then did his thing.
''In the end, what could be the player of the year took over,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
Both teams came out cold and stayed that way, missing 20 of their first 21 shots and finishing the half shooting a combined 20.3 percent (13 for 64). It was the second-worst shooting by two teams in a half this season. The only worse combined performance was 18.4 percent (9 for 49) by Virginia Tech and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 5, according to STATS.
Providence opened 0 for 10 with three turnovers before Dunn's rambunctious drive and layup high off the glass 6 minutes after tipoff.
It didn't get much better for the Friars, who shot 17.9 percent (5 of 28) in the first half and was 2 for 14 on 3s. Hegner's three straight 3s and strong inside play from Zach Hanson helped get Creighton out to a 19-7 lead.
''Tough, tough loss,'' McDermott said. ''We found a way to be competitive in a game when our offense was anemic. That hasn't happened with this team this year. That's a sign of progress. Goes without saying, we had an incredibly tough shooting night.''
COOLEY BATTLING VERTIGO
Providence's Ed Cooley coached the game despite battling vertigo, an ailment he also battled two years ago. LaFleur said Cooley would be fine.
''He did a great job of getting himself together today to address the team,'' LaFleur said. ''Our preparation was the same as normal. I think he's doing fine and I know he's feeling really good right now.''
Cooley started the game sitting on the bench, but it wasn't long before he was on his feet giving instructions.
''Once he stood up, we just tried to keep him up, because with vertigo, getting up and down is usually the biggest problem,'' LaFleur said.
Providence: The Friars' 17.9 percent field-goal shooting in the first half was their worst since shooting 16.7 percent in the second half against Kentucky on Nov. 30, 2014, according to STATS. ... PC has held seven of its last eight opponents under 68 points. ... Dunn is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 10 in assists (7.3) and steals (3.2).
Creighton: Bluejays' 22.2 percent in first half was their worst since 17.9 percent in the first half against Georgetown on Jan. 31, 2015. ... They lost their 11th straight against a Top 25 opponent.
Providence hosts Seton Hall on Saturday.
Creighton visits DePaul on Sunday.