OMAHA, Neb. – Northwestern coach Bill Carmody says if he had to do it over again, he probably would have left Drew Crawford in the game after he committed his fourth foul against No. 23 Creighton.
Crawford looked as if he were on his way to a career night. He scored 34 points to tie an opponent record at the CenturyLink Center, but after he went to the bench for 6 minutes in the second half, Creighton went on a big run that helped send the Wildcats to an 87-79 loss Thursday night.
"It's tough to waste a night like he was having, not winning, because he was making long shots, going inside and making some in-between shots," Carmody said. "It seemed like he and (Doug) McDermott were going back and forth for a little bit. Maybe I should have just played him and said to heck with it."
McDermott scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half as the Bluejays beat a Big Ten opponent for the third time this season.
McDermott, who was on the bench for the last 12 minutes of the first half because of his own foul trouble, scored 11 points in a 16-5 run that put the Bluejays ahead 55-47 with 9 minutes to play.
Crawford watched most of it from the bench after being called for his fourth foul with 14:35 left.
"Yeah, it's obviously frustrating," Crawford said. "That's what happens when you pick up fouls. I made a couple mistakes and picked up fouls I shouldn't have. It's tough watching from the bench."
When he returned he scored five quick points to get the Wildcats back within 58-56, and JerShon Cobb's free throws tied it 58-all.
But Creighton's Jahenns Manigat rattled in a 3-pointer from the corner to break the tie. JerShon Cobb committed a turnover on the other end then fouled Ethan Wragge as he made a 3. Wragge converted the four-point play for a 65-58 lead.
Crawford finished the game one point shy of his career high of 35 points two seasons ago against North Carolina A&T.
"This was a big game for us, especially for kind of proving ourselves," Crawford said. "Creighton is a tough team. It was really a test for us on the road, so we wanted to come in and win it. It's tough to go away from this one with a loss."
Antoine Young scored 13 points, Gregory Echenique and Manigat had 11 apiece, and Wragge added 10 for Missouri Valley Conference favorite Creighton (10-1), which beat a Big Ten opponent for the third time this season after wins over Iowa and Nebraska.
"Anybody who likes offense probably enjoyed that game, especially in the first half," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "We didn't have an answer for them. They scored on 11 of 16 possessions to start the game. The big difference was that they scored on two of 11 to start the second half."
John Shurna had 18 points and Davide Curletti added 10 for Northwestern (10-2), which was off to its second-best start in program history.
"It was big to finish off our nonconference here and head into break," said Grant Gibbs, who had 12 assists for the Bluejays. "Any time we can get a quality win against an opponent like Northwestern at our place, we have to take advantage of it, and we were fortunate."
Doug McDermott, coming off a career-high 35 points against Tulsa on Monday, is the first Creighton player in more than 30 years to score 20 or more points in 10 straight games. According to STATS LLC, he's the nation's only player with four straight games of 24 points or more.
With Crawford leading the way, Northwestern shot 70 percent (16 of 23) over the first 15 minutes of the game and used an 8-0 run to go up 33-25.
"We didn't have an answer for them," Greg McDermott said.