ST. THOMAS — There’s not going to be a repeat champion coming out of this year’s Paradise Jam.
Colorado State, a first-timer in the Virgin Islands’ annual men’s college basketball tournament, advanced to the finals with a 95-81 victory over 2016 champion Creighton in Sunday’s first semifinal game at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.
David Roddy put his name in contention for tournament MVP honors by scoring a career-high 36 points for the undefeated Rams (5-0). Dischon Thomas added 21 points and Isaiah Stevens finished with a double-double — 17 points and 11 assists.
Four players finished in double figures for the Blue Jays (4-1) in their first loss this season. Arthur Kaluma led with 16 points, Ryan Nembhard had 15 points, and Ryan Kalkbrenner and Ryan Hawkins added 13 points apiece.
This one was close for two-thirds of the game, with three lead changes and three ties. But a key stretch in the second half put things squarely in Colorado State’s control.
Creighton took its last and biggest lead — 52-49 — on two free throws by Nembhard with 15 minutes, 40 seconds left in the second half. Stevens’ 3-pointer tied the game at 52 45 seconds later, and Jalen Lake’s 3 put the Rams ahead to stay with 14:15 left.
Those 3-pointers kicked off a 23-6 run over the next 4½ minutes that helped Colorado State push its lead into double digits, with Thomas’ 3-pointer giving the Rams a 72-58 lead.
The Blue Jays would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the game, with Colorado State taking its biggest lead — 93-75 — on Roddy’s dunk with 1:48 remaining.
David Roddy, Colorado State: The 6-foot-6 junior forward put up his second 30-point game of the tournament, and did it mainly from the outside. He made 13 of 20 from the field — 7 of 10 on 3-pointers — and 3 for 3 on free throws. He also had three rebounds and three assists.
Arthur Kaluma, Creighton: The 6-7 freshman forward had a career-high scoring night for the Blue Jays, making 7 of 12 from the field (including 2 of 4 3-pointers), and also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
• The Rams won this game thanks to their incredible 3-point shooting. Led by Roddy, Colorado State made a school and Paradise Jam record 20 of 34 3-pointers (66.7%). Seven players made at least on 3-pointer — Thomas was 5 of 8, Stevens was 3 for 4, John Tonje went 2 for 2, and Adam Thistlewood, Kendle Moore and Jalen Lake all made one.
• Creighton actually shot slightly better from the field than Colorado State, making 33 of 60 (55.0%) to the Rams’ 35 of 66 shots (53.0%), but the Blue Jays only made 7 of 22 3-pointers (31.8%). Hawkins made 3 of 7, Kaluma 2 for 4, and Nembhard and Alex O’Connell had one each.
• Colorado State also moved and shared the ball better, with Stevens leading a Rams’ effort that produced a season-best 23 assists on 35 baskets. Creighton had 18 assists — its second-best total this season — on 33 baskets, led by five from Nermbhard.
Colorado State now takes on Northeastern for the Paradise Jam championship at 9 p.m. today at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center. Meanwhile, Creighton will play Southern Illinois in the third-place game at 6:45 p.m. today.