Oumar Ballo had a career-high 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead four Wildcats who finished in double figures in No. 14 Arizona’s 81-79 victory over No. 10 Creighton in the final of the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Wednesday.
Ballo shot 14-for-17 from the field, while Kerr Kriisa added 13 points, nine assists and three rebounds. Azuolas Tubelis had 12 points and seven rebounds with Courtney Ramey chipping in 10 points and five assists for Arizona (6-0), which also won the tournament in 2014 and 2000.
The Bluejays (6-1), who trailed by 14 with 12:19 remaining, had a chance to tie the game after calling a timeout with 7.4 seconds remaining.
But Ryan Nembhard was fouled with two seconds left, sending him to the foul line. After making the first free throw, Nembhard intentionally missed his second attempt, but Arizona grabbed the rebound.
The Wildcats shot 36-for-68 (52.9 percent) from the field, including 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) from 3-point range. Arizona outrebounded the Bluejays 38-29 and outscored them 48-24 in the paint.
Creighton was led by Nembhard, who had 20 points and six assists, while Ryan Kalkbrenner added 16 points and five rebounds. Trey Alexander finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, with Baylor Scheierman posting 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Creighton shot 27 of 59 (45.8 percent) from the field, including 10 of 25 (40 percent) from 3-point range, as it came up just shy of claiming the Maui Invitational title in its first appearance in the event’s 39-year history.
Trailing 59-45 with 12:19 remaining, the Bluejays went on a 7-0 run to pull within 59-52 following Nembhard’s jumper with 10:53 to go. But Ballo scored inside and Tubelis followed with a layup for a 63-52 advantage with 8:58 remaining.
Leading 26-25 with 7:53 left in the first half, the Wildcats took control of the game by closing the half on a 13-5 run to take a 39-30 lead into intermission.
The Bluejays had no answer for Ballo in the first half, as he scored 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting and finished one rebound shy of a first-half double-double.
–Field Level Media