NEW YORK (AP) — Arthur Kaluma hit three straight 3-pointers down the stretch and No. 18 Creighton overcame a second-half scoring drought to pull away from St. John’s for a 77-67 victory Saturday night.
Creighton (18-9, 12-4) remained in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East after Providence and Xavier won earlier in the day. Marquette holds a one-game lead in the conference and visits Creighton on Tuesday night.
Kaluma made a trio of 3s in a conference game for the first time this season. He entered shooting 41.9% from behind the arc but missed his first three attempts. He was 4 of 18 from deep over his previous five games.
“Art probably hasn’t shot as well as he would like this season for his standards, but he does trust his work,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said. “The guy gets extra work in every day on his shooting and you hope that extra work will pay off when your team needs you the most. Art hit some really big ones for us down the stretch.”
Ryan Nembhard had 16 points for the Bluejays, who went scoreless for six minutes in allowing St. John’s to briefly take the lead. Kaluma finished with 13 points and Ryan Kalkbrenner added 12 as Creighton won for the ninth time in 10 games.
“We were really stuck in the mud there offensively,” McDermott said.
Joel Soriano led St. John’s with 15 points and eight rebounds. David Jones added 14 points off the bench but the Red Storm (16-12, 6-11) were unable to get their third straight win.
Creighton entered shooting 47.1% from the field and shot 56.7% in its 104-76 rout of St. John’s last month at home. The Bluejays made enough shots late in this one to finish at 38.7% overall.
Creighton led by just one before Kaluma hit 3s on consecutive possessions to make it 64-57 with 3:44 left. He drained another 3 to make it 67-57 with 2:28 remaining and then found Kalkbrenner for a dunk that made it 69-57 with 1:47 to go.
“It was big time,” Kaluma said. “We didn’t play our best basketball but at the end of the game when it matters, I was able to step up and hit some big shots for my team.”
St. John’s scored 11 straight points and took a 49-48 lead on Kolby King’s layup with 11:54 left after Soriano blocked a shot by Nembhard. Creighton missed 13 straight shots from the field over 7 1/2 minutes until Nembhard’s basket gave the Bluejays a 52-49 lead with 9:54 to go.
Creighton took its first double-digit lead at 35-24 when Baylor Scheierman stole the ball from Posh Alexander and found Kaluma for a two-handed dunk with 4:11 left in the first half. After St. John’s got within five, the Bluejays held a 42-32 lead at halftime when Kalkbrenner blocked Jones at the rim.
Creighton: The Bluejays went 13 of 33 (39.4%) from 3-point range after shooting a combined 30% (12 of 40) in a split against UConn and Providence.
St. John’s: Playing at Carnesecca Arena on campus, the Red Storm were unable to get their third win over a ranked conference foe this season after beating Providence at Madison Square Garden last weekend and winning at UConn on Jan. 15.
“I think we didn’t make the right plays, that’s all,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “They did. Simple as that.”
Red Storm junior guard Andre Curbelo was out for a third straight game due to a coach’s decision. The Illinois transfer is averaging 9.6 points and 4.5 assists per game. He also was held out Jan. 3 against Marquette.
St. John’s also announced sophomore guard Rafael Pinzon was suspended indefinitely for not meeting team standards. Pinzon is averaging 6.1 points in 19 games this season.
After the game, Anderson declined to elaborate on either player’s absence.
Creighton: Will host No. 11 Marquette on Tuesday. The Bluejays missed 16 of 20 3-pointers in their 69-56 loss at Marquette on Dec. 18.
St. Johns: Visits last-place Georgetown on Wednesday before hosting No. 20 UConn at Madison Square Garden next Saturday.
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