ROSEMONT, Ill. — Isaiah Zierden put on a shooting show for his father Sunday in helping Creighton record a big bounce-back win.
The junior guard scored a career-high 31 points — 24 coming via eight 3-pointers — as the Bluejays overcame a sluggish start in recording a 91-80 win at DePaul.
Zierden’s performance came with his father, Don, in attendance at the Allstate Arena. Don Zierden is an assistant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards and has limited opportunities to see his son play.
“I’m going to talk to Mac about whether we can fly my dad to come to every game,” Zierden said on Creighton’s postgame radio show. “Whenever my dad can come, it’s always a special occasion.”
Creighton coach Greg McDermott might consider taking Zierden up on finding a way to get his dad to games.
“It was really cool that his dad was here today to see that,” McDermott said. “I talked to his dad and told him that we have to be a little more creative in how we schedule your off days.
“We need to have him 12 more times in Big East play. I’m really proud of Z. He was big for us today.”
Zierden made 9 of 12 shots from the field, including 8 of 11 3-pointers. He finished one 3 shy of the program record held by Kyle Korver and Ethan Wragge.
“When you start to get it going, you kind of get that feeling like this isn’t going to miss and I can shoot it from anywhere,” Zierden said. “I just started catching and shooting.”
Three of Zierden’s baskets came after DePaul used a 9-3 spurt to erase Creighton’s 47-41 halftime lead and forge a 50-50 tie.
Zierden countered with a 3-pointer from the corner. Two possessions later, Zierden made a 3 in transition and then buried another 3-pointer on Creighton’s next possession.
Maurice Watson added a 3 and Zach Hanson scored on a dunk to push the lead to 64-54 with 12:18 to play.
DePaul made one last charge, cutting the deficit to 78-75 on a drive by Billy Garret with 3:20 to play. The Blue Demons had a chance to inch closer on their next possession but Myke Henry was called for a fifth foul on a charge.
The Bluejays then got a three-point play by James Milliken and 10 free throws to close out the win. Creighton improved to 13-6, including 4-2 in the Big East with its third road win in league play.
DePaul, which fell to 6-12 and 0-6, jumped to an 11-0 lead at the start of the game.
“I had told the team before the game that DePaul is a team that plays the game in runs,” McDermott said. “It’s a 10-0 run one way and a 12-2 run the other way. That’s been the M.O. throughout the season.
“I told the team that it’s going to happen, and we just have to stay true to what we do and we’ll go on our run eventually. I’m glad we settled down and we got our transition game back at the tempo we wanted.”
Creighton countered DePaul’s opening surge with a 21-9 spurt that gave the Bluejays their first lead at 21-20 on a 3-pointer by Cole Huff. The Blue Demons took 23-21 and 25-23 leads before Creighton went on a 22-11 run.
Zierden had the last eight points on the spurt, six coming on the same possession. With Creighton holding a 37-36 lead, Zierden was fouled by Tommy Hamilton on a rebound. Hamilton then was called for a technical foul.
Zierden made three free throws before missing. Toby Hegner grabbed the rebound and found Zierden open for a 3-pointer. Zierden then stole a pass on DePaul’s next possession and scored on a fast break for a 45-36 lead.
“The first thing my dad said to me after the game was ‘Way to miss a free throw,’ ” Zierden said, laughing. “He’s always talking about mistakes that I’ve made. He’s always been my biggest supporter, but he’s also been one of my hardest critics.
“He keeps me real level-headed.”
Zierden became the first Bluejay to score 30 in game since Doug McDermott did it in the 2014 NCAA tournament game against Louisiana. Four teammates scored in double figures as Watson added 17 points, Milliken had 14, Hanson had 11 and Huff finished with 10.
Henry and Eli Cain each scored 21 points to pace DePaul.
“That DePaul team is going to beat some good teams in the Big East before the season is over,” McDermott said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.
“The important thing is that we found a way to win.”
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Video: Postgame conversation with Greg McDermott, Isaiah Zierden