Your favorite Creighton basketball moments

Mar 18, 2024

Why is Creighton basketball so special to you? What memories do you cherish? We asked Bluejay alumni to share their personal snapshots from Bluejay hoops lore.

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A photo collage of Creighton basketball players and fans
View from the stands of Creighton fans at a basketball game

There are the incredible game-winning shots, iconic court storms, epic road trips to St. Louis and breathtaking NCAA Tournament victories that we’ll never forget. In the storied history of Creighton basketball, you can bet alumni can agree on several favorites.

But what makes sports and our fandom so meaningful is, sometimes, the actual game isn’t what ends up mattering most. What often stays with us is the special feeling we had in THAT specific moment … because of the people we were with or the rush of pure joy that consumed us.

It’s why one alumna always remembers Toga Night and another can still picture the sign she made for Kyle Korver. It’s skipping class to celebrate an MVC title with friends or finding your way to the front row and earning a quick cameo on the TV broadcast. And also, yes, we do fully appreciate a Doug McDermott buzzer-beater, a BIG EAST Championship and an NCAA Elite Eight run.

Disclaimer: We polled alumni BEFORE the Creighton men’s basketball team defeated UConn on Feb. 20, securing the first victory over a No. 1 team in Jays hoops history. That win, that night and that celebration will always stand out for a lot of fans.

Do you have a favorite Jays basketball memory? Perhaps a favorite Pink-Out game or a road trip that you’ll never forget? Share your story with us!

On with the memories...

‘See ya in the NBA Kyle’

A photo from Creighton alum Laura Haller's childhood of her holding a Kyle Korver sign

It was Kyle Korver’s senior night and the final game in the Civic Auditorium. The Jays ended up crushing Wichita State 86-60, and so much of the experience still sticks with Laura Haller, BS’13. Especially the moments before the game. Haller decided that day to make a special sign for Korver. Her parents brought her early to the arena so she could watch her favorite player warm up.

“Sure enough, he saw (my sign), and gave a smile and a nod, and made my whole year,” Haller said. “That’s a Creighton basketball memory I’ll never forget, and the joy from that moment created memories of a lifetime, including MVC tourneys in St. Louis (men) and St. Charles (women), and writing my senior project on the history of Creighton men’s basketball, being on the Blue Crew and interning for the Creighton Athletics Marketing Department.”

The shot heard ‘round the Hilltop

Flash back to March 5, 1978. That’s when Michael Mills, BA’88, JD’91, witnessed an unforgettable moment just before the final buzzer in a Jays’ 54-52 win over Indiana State and hoops legend Larry Bird. Said Mills: “It was a smoke-filled Omaha Civic Auditorium, and Rick Apke made a turnaround jump shot for the win and MVC Tournament Championship. Never heard it louder.”

Celebrating a championship in style

Billy Bluejay sits on the basketball hoop

This one is surely still fresh in most Bluejay fans’ memory. Creighton capped an impressive late-season surge with a title-clinching victory over Seton Hall on the final day of the regular season in 2020. The Jays finished the game on a 30-10 run to earn their first-ever BIG EAST Championship. Fans rushed the floor, the players cut down the nets and a banner was unveiled in the rafters. All of it sticks with Colin Fitzgerald, MAC’21, BSBA’21.

“Best game I’ve ever witnessed in person,” he said. “The crowd was incredible, and I will never forget storming the court and hanging a banner!”

That celebratory scene ended up being the lasting image for Jays fans in 2020, adding some significance to the moment. Less than one week later, the rest of the season was canceled due to the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

See you in St. Louis

Remember the Missouri Valley tournament? Arch Madness? Sundecker’s? A jam-packed hotel lobby for team sendoffs? Of course you do. Forget the spring break beaches! The scenes and images of spring break in St. Louis are forever with (Ida) Amelis Long, BA’04, MS’07. “From the driving adventure to navigating a new city, to piling into one hotel room, making shirts with puffy paint and then finally watching CU win it all — that’s my highlight,” Long said.

Barone’s boys

Former Creighton coach Tony Barone shouts from the sidelines

There are so many fond memories John Ashford, JD’08, has watching Bluejay hoops with his dad, Brad Ashford, JD'74  especially in the mid-to-late-80s. John will never forget “Chad Gallagher, Bob Harstad and Porter Moser draining shots while Tony Barone frantically paced the sidelines at the old Civic Auditorium.”

There was a specific game that David Andrews, BA’88, always finds himself reflecting on. Creighton beat DePaul 74-61 in 1986. Andrews said that Jays team was still finding its way but admirably battling to the best of its ability. Creighton didn’t even have enough players to scrimmage, so it eventually brought on a couple of students, Gary and Glen McCracken, who were legends on the intramural courts. That victory over DePaul was “probably the best win of that season,” Andrews said. He still remembers the post-game quote from DePaul coach Joey Meyer published by the Chicago Tribune. “If they’d had a 3-point (line) tonight, we would have lost by 50,” Meyer said.

The story begins

In 2022, Creighton had a new nucleus of young, promising talent. Despite injuries to key players, the Jays still made the NCAA Tournament, defeated San Diego State in the first round and nearly knocked off No. 1 seed Kansas. Braden Thieszen, DPT’07, was there for the big win over the Aztecs. He still marvels at Trey Alexander’s late-game heroics. “It was fun watching Trey do work in OT against SDSU,” Thieszen said. “Unbelievable come-from-behind win.”

Isn’t that you on the front page?

Creighton player celebrates with fans in 1991
Omaha World-Herald

As a resident advisor in McGloin Hall, Dave Wenthold, BSBA’00, was probably one of the few students on campus who had a thorough understanding of the phone system’s instruction manual, Nortel Networks: Meridian Mail Voice Messaging System Userguide. “I knew how to set up a ‘time delivery’ silent voice message on campus and send it to all of my professors,” Wenthold said.

This knowledge came in handy during the Missouri Valley Tournament in 1999. Instead of going back to Omaha to attend class, Wenthold stayed in St. Louis to celebrate Creighton’s 70-61 win over Evansville. He explained his absences with that special voicemail.

Then Wenthold appeared next to Rodney Buford on the front page of The Omaha World-Herald’s sports section. The newspapers were delivered before his voicemails.

“Let’s just say that the late/great Dr. Jerome F. “Jerry” Sherman busted me for an ‘on-campus voice message’ about missing class (with some help from my fellow classmate, John Keane, BSBA’00, JD’03, MBA’04) when he really knew I was still in St. Louis celebrating with coach Dana Altman and the team!” Wenthold said. “It was all worth it, because, for the first time in many years, the Jays were going dancing for March Madness. It seems like we've been dancing ever since!”

Toga very much

It was Toga Night in the student section for Creighton’s game against Illinois State in 2013. And Anne Schwieterman, BS’14, made the TV broadcast. “I used my bedsheet as a ‘toga,’” she said. “The game was televised, as Doug McDermott was playing, and my parents were watching at home in Denver. They texted me that they saw me live on TV in my toga with my friends. Best viewing on TV yet!”

Sisterly love

Three fans hold a Creighton flag in the student section

Creighton was hosting Villanova for a huge game in 2018. Claire Begley, BS’19, OTD’22, and her two sisters scored seats in the front row. How great! The game was a classic. The Jays beat No. 3 Villanova 89-83 in overtime. The win marked the first time in school history that Creighton had defeated team ranked inside the top 3.

“We had the time of our lives and even made it on TV while waving our flag!” Begley said. “I’ll never forget how happy we were when Creighton pulled off a win. Such amazing memories with my family that I’ll forever be grateful for.”

We are elite!

Julie Klemm, BSBA’23, as a member of the Dance Team, had a front row seat throughout Creighton’s historic NCAA Tournament run last year, when the Jays reached the Elite Eight for the first time. They beat NC State, Baylor and Princeton before losing a heartbreaker to San Diego State.

Klemm knows she’ll never forget those two wonderful weeks. “Performing on Creighton’s dance team at the Elite Eight last season and supporting the Creighton men’s basketball team as they made history was really special,” Klemm said.

Welcome to the BIG EAST

Friends gather for a photo at a Creighton basketball game in 2013

Creighton vs. Marquette. New Year’s Eve 2013. The first-ever BIG EAST game for the Jays. The CHI Health Center (then the CenturyLink Center) was insane. Jamie VanGampleare Haak, BS’10, BSN’12, and her college friend group reunited for this crazy night. Creighton never trailed and won 67-49.

“We had such a fun time cheering on the Jays as they beat Marquette," Haak said. "At some point, Sweet Caroline played during a timeout, and it felt like the entire audience was belting out the song together. To this day, hearing that song instantly takes me back to that game and the memories of rooting on my beloved team with the best of friends.”

Doug’s dagger

The ball was going to Doug McDermott and everyone knew it. St. John’s still couldn’t stop him. The Bluejay legend, who scored 39 points that day, nailed a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left to secure a 63-60 win in 2014. Tim White, BS’05, was there to see it. “The atmosphere was incredible, and the game was unforgettable,” he said.

Another iconic Doug moment: His 45-point performance on senior day, when he eclipsed 3,000 career points and led Creighton to an 88-73 win over Providence.


While you're cheering for the Creighton men's and women's basketball teams in March, keep track of all the pregame events, team sendoffs and watch parties for Bluejay alumni and friends by bookmarking our Athletics Events page.