Creighton coach Greg McDermott didn’t need a warm welcome in his
return to Iowa.
What he really needed was the replay he never got.
Jamie Vanderbeken hit a turnaround 3 as time expired and Iowa
State stunned Creighton 91-88 in Des Moines, spoiling McDermott’s
return to his home state.
But photographs appeared to show that ball was still in
Vanderbeken’s hands when the lights went off. Since the game wasn’t
televised, though, replays weren’t available.
It was the toughest of breaks for McDermott, who bolted for the
Bluejays last spring after four disappointing seasons with the
Cyclones and, ironically, scheduled the game while still at Iowa
”There’s no monitor, so we’ll never know. Actually we will
know, because they counted it,” McDermott said. ”We had as good
an officiating crew as you could ask for. If they say it counted,
Antoine Young hit a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds left to
tie it up. But Vanderbeken caught the ball at the top of the key,
spun left and drilled the game-winner – his only 3 of the game –
from at least 25 feet.
”Oh yeah, it counted, so it was good,” Iowa State coach Fred
Diante Garrett scored a career-high 28 points, Melvin Ejim added
22 and Jake Anderson scored 19 points and grabbed 15 boards for the
Young led five players in double figures with 21 points for the
Bluejays (3-1), who went 14 of 27 from 3-point range.
But it was a 3 they couldn’t stop that sent them to their first
loss under McDermott.
McDermott was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers from a
crowd of 10,252 in Des Moines, about 35 miles south of Ames. But
all the hype over McDermott’s return was overshadowed by a game
that was much more entertaining than most imagined.
Young was fouled with 3.7 seconds left and the Bluejays down
88-85. He missed his second free throw, but grabbed the rebound and
was fouled again.
Young hit both, which appeared to send the game into overtime.
But Scott Christopherson fed the ball upcourt to Vanderbeken, a
6-foot-11 forward, who calmly knocked down the biggest shot of his
”Just a lucky shot I guess,” Vanderbeken said. ”I thought I
did (got it off in time). I don’t know. I don’t know what to
Iowa State’s bench erupted and streamed onto the court, and
Garrett calmly raced toward the baseline and silently saluted the
Cyclones student section.
As far as homecomings go, it couldn’t have gone any worse for
McDermott, a native Iowan, seemed like a perfect fit when the
Cyclones hired him away from Northern Iowa in 2006, but Iowa State
never reached the NCAA tournament or the NIT during his tenure.
”I don’t want them to lose. I’ll cheer for them every time
moving forward,” McDermott said of the Cyclones.
In the closing moments, it looked as though Iowa State was
headed for a tight but somewhat comfortable victory.
Ejim hit a runner and a pull-up 3, and Anderson followed with a
jumper to put Iowa State up 77-74 with 4:58 left, but Wayne Runnels
hit a jumper to pull Creighton within 79-78.
Young answered with a 3 with 36 seconds to go, pulling the
Bluejays to within 83-81. Garrett hit four free throws to keep Iowa
State ahead, but he and Christopherson missed three of four from
the line in the final 11 seconds to help put Creighton back in the
Kenny Lawson Jr. had 20 points, Darryl Ashford had 17 and
freshman Doug McDermott, the coach’s son and a state title winner
on this same floor last winter, scored 16 points for Creighton.
The game had a feel of an midseason Missouri Valley or Big 12
game rather than a non-conference, neutral-site tilt in November. A
few thousand Bluejays fans made the 2 1/2-hour drive down
Interstate I-80 for the game, and the crowd was into it from the
They left coach McDermott alone for the most part – save for a
few salty chants from Iowa State’s student section.
The play on the court felt like February as well, with both
teams racing up and down the floor. In the end, Iowa State made one
more play than Creighton – even if a replay might have taken it
”Listen, it was a split second one way or the other and they
made the call,” Hoiberg said.