Creighton edged Oregon in 2OT to advance to the NCAA Tournament

PITTSBURGH — Before the start of the second overtime period, Greg McDermott looked over at Dana Altman, and the two coaches and close friends shared a smile.

„We were both in disbelief at what was happening before our eyes,” McDermott said.

They were not alone.

Steven Ashworth and Ryan Kalkbrenner made 3-pointers in the second overtime as Creighton outlasted Altman, the former coach of the Bluejays, and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament against Oregon on Saturday night with an 86-73 win.

A 3 by the 6-foot-1 Ashworth and a rare one by the 7-1 Kalkbrenner, a defensive specialist, helped the third-ranked Bluejays (25-9) score the first 15 points of the second OT. End the game with the 11th-ranked Ducks (24-12) and more than a March of confusion.

He took over for Altman at Creighton in 2010 and earned his 325th career hit, two away from Altman's school record, calling it an „epic game.” „Not sure I've been a part of anything like that in 35 years.”

Ashworth scored 21 points, Trey Alexander added 20, Kalkbrenner had 19 and Baylor Schierman had 18 for Baylor, which will make its third Sweet 16 appearance in four years and face No. 2 seed Tennessee on Friday in the Midwest Region in Detroit.

„It's a great feeling,” said Alexander, one of the returnees from Creighton's Elite Eight team a year ago. „We love this group of guys. We love rocking and rolling together. We love everything that comes with road trips and being able to have another week with each other.

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„We're just going to try to stay in the moment and continue to play at the level we think we can play. From there, we'll let the dominoes fall where they may.”

The Bluejays needed poise, big shots, clutch free throws and poise to overcome Oregon's devastating Jermaine Quisnard and N'Faly Dante.

Quisnard — who scored 40 points in the first round against his former school, South Carolina — poured in 32 on Saturday, and Dante dominated with 28 points and 20 rebounds.

It was the second overtime game of the night at PPG Paints Arena after NC State overcame Oakland's Cinderella run 79-73.

Altman and McDermott, two of the winningest coaches in Creighton history in Saturday's tournament, are close friends, occasional golfing buddies and the reason the Bluejays are a mid-major power and a threat in the bracket.

For two hours, their teams went toe-to-toe without giving an inch. It was exciting and exhausting as they exchanged the lead 14 times. There was about as much drama as you can pack into nine ties and a tournament game.

The Ducks, who won the Pac-12 tourney title along with Quisnard-Dante, appeared to be cooking in the first overtime after Ashworth's two free throws put Creighton ahead 71-68. But Kooisnard, a silky senior guard from East Chicago, Indiana, came down and calmly drained a long 3-pointer in front of Oregon's bench to tie the score.

„They've been playing their tails off all year,” said Altman, who lost three players to season-ending injuries. „We've been driving them. So, it's special to see those two guys.

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„We had opportunities. We made some critical mistakes in regulation. That's on me.”

Creighton had one last chance in the first OT, but Alexander missed a short baseline jumper just before Horn, stretching a Saturday doubleheader from a night in Pittsburgh to a chilly Sunday morning.

The second OT was all Creighton.

Ashworth opened it with his 3, and after Kooisnaard missed a layup, Kalkbrenner, a three-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, took a pass behind the line and drained his 53rd 3-point attempt all season.

„Mac [McDermott] He told me to make 100 [3s] After practice and before the 100 in the two practices we had before we got here,” Kalkbrenner said. „That helped prepare me. I got the confidence in myself to make that shot and I knew that was going to be the No. 1 shot that Mack wanted on that possession.”

After another Couisnard foul, Creighton's Jasen Green, who grabbed nine rebounds, grabbed a layup and the Bluejays were all but flying to the Sweet 16. Alexander sealed it by banking in a 3-pointer as Creighton opened up an 86-71 lead. .

Oregon, which attempted just five free throws, had a chance to put the game away in the final minute of regulation, but Dante missed Oregon's first shot with 26.4 seconds left and the Ducks up by two points.

Shearman, who played all 50 minutes, then hit a contested 10-footer in the lane, and the teams went to OT after Quisnard missed an off-balance drive in the final second.

Altman's on-court reunion with Creighton is one of the game's major subplots, where he spent 16 seasons, turning around a program in disarray and helping put the Omaha, Nebraska-based school on the hoops map.

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McDermott keeps it up. Now one of the nation's most consistently winning teams, the Bluejays have outgrown any mid-major label.

In March, how big are they?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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