ANAHEIM, Calif. — Trust plays an important role in Creighton coach Greg McDermott's decisions on divvying up playing time.
That was especially apparent Sunday as three of the five starters each played 37 minutes or more in the 60-53 loss to George Washington at the Wooden Legacy tournament. Sixth-man Ethan Wragge also played a season-high 30 minutes as McDermott shortened his rotation.
“I didn't think our bench was giving us a great lift,” McDermott said. “The guys that start plus Ethan are the guys I trust the most defensively, and when you're behind you have to get stops to get back into the game.
“There's no question that we're a tired basketball team right now. We have to figure out a way to get some juice in our tank for Tuesday night.”
Creighton will wrap up its California trip with a Tuesday game at Long Beach State. The contest is the return for the 2012 BracketBusters meeting in Omaha between the teams.
Guard Grant Gibbs came a few seconds shy of playing the entire 40 minutes against George Washington, while Doug McDermott and Austin Chatman each played 37 minutes. McDermott played 39 minutes in Friday's semifinal loss to San Diego State, while Chatman played 35 and Gibbs 34.
Creighton's two other starters, Jahenns Manigat and Will Artino, played 21 and nine minutes respectively. Other than Wragge, no Creighton reserve played more than the 11 minutes logged by Devin Brooks.
Artino's playing time was a season low. The 6-foot-11 junior played a total of 37 minutes in the tournament, scoring 10 points and grabbing three rebounds.
For the first time this season, McDermott gave 7-0 sophomore Geoffrey Groselle some first-half playing time. He played three minutes and had a dunk.
Creighton's other big man, 6-9 freshman Zach Hanson, played one minute and did not score.
“We need more production out of our bench and we need more consistency out of our bench,” McDermott said. “But the start of the game had nothing to do with our bench. We weren't as efficient on the defensive end as we needed to be on a day when we weren't making shots.”
Doug's scoring streak ends
Doug McDermott's string of eight straight games of scoring 20 points or more came to an end as he finished with seven points. He came into the game shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from 3-point range.
Against the Colonials, McDermott went 2 of 12 and missed all five of his 3-pointers. His off-night obviously put pressure on Creighton's other players to produce while still trying to keep McDermott in the offensive flow.
“We have to continue to look to him,” said Gibbs, who scored a season-high 12 points. “I think I missed him a handful of times on what would have been easy opportunities for him.
“With the efficiency he scores with and the percentages that he shoots, we have to just keep getting him the ball. We believe in him and he doesn't have many nights like this. And when he does, we have to step up, and we didn't have that either.”
Gibbs and Chatman shot a combined 7 of 24 from the field, including 2 of 9 from beyond the arc.
“We mixed up our defense a little bit and kind of kept them off balance,” George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said. “I'm very happy to escape with this win.”
Experience pays off late for Colonials
Longergan wasn't feeling overly optimistic when his team was down by three with just more than two minutes to play.
“It didn't look good for us but give our guys credit,” he said. “They responded when they had to.”
The Colonials improved to 6-1 by bouncing back from Friday's loss to No. 25 Marquette to knock off the No. 20 Bluejays.
“We're definitely headed in the right direction,” he said. “I thought we were headed in the right direction last year when we started four freshmen. I knew that experience would pay off for us this year.”
Bits and pieces
San Diego State's Xavier Thames was named the named the tournament's most valuable player, while Doug McDermott earned a spot on the all-tournament team. … In addition to leading Creighton with 16 points, Wragge grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. He also made his first 2-point basket of the season, though officials originally had signaled the basket with 9:48 to play to be a 3-pointer. It was changed to a 2-pointer during a review of the video during the next media timeout. … McDermott also had a string of 18 straight double-figure scoring games snapped. … Two of Gibbs' four baskets were dunks. Last time that happened? “I think it was probably in high school,” he said. … Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen had been in attendance for the first two games of the tournament but had to leave Sunday in order to travel to New York for meetings with the Big East presidents and athletic directors. The meetings will be held Monday and Tuesday, and Rasmussen said the agenda will include discussion about league expansion and governance rules for the conference.