Creighton wins 2nd straight MVC title
ST. LOUIS (AP)
Creighton repeated as Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion without much production from its star.
''I didn't have my best game, but my teammates stepped up and it feels great,'' said Valley player of the year and tournament MVP Doug McDermott, who missed six of his first seven shots in a 68-65 victory over Wichita State on Sunday. ''It couldn't get much better than this.''
Jahenns Manigat scored a season-best 16 points and hit a layup with 11.5 seconds to go that gave top-seeded Creighton just enough. Reserve Ethan Wragge made five 3-pointers for 15 points while McDermott, who averages 23 points, was held to 14 on 5-for-14 shooting.
''Once I knocked one down, I went for two and then kept on going,'' Wragge said. ''This is what our team has been about all year. If they are going to take away our first or second option, then we've got a third or fourth option and we can all step up.''
Manigat said his clutch layup ''brings you back to the playground when you're a kid just playing for the love of the game.''
Malcolm Armstead scored a season-high 28 points with nine rebounds for second-seeded Wichita State (26-8). But he missed a potential tying 3-pointer just before the buzzer while well-guarded by McDermott.
''He was dynamite,'' coach Gregg Marshall said of Armstead, a transfer from Oregon playing just his senior season at Wichita State. ''He carried us in a lot of ways.''
While the Bluejays (27-7) locked up an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Wichita State appears to be in good shape to get an at-large berth. The Shockers entered the day with an RPI of 36, four spots behind Creighton.
''We've just got to stay positive,'' senior forward Carl Hall said. ''It's a new season coming up in like a week and a half.''
Creighton coach Greg McDermott, father of the team's All-America forward, said he ''thought we were going anyway.''
''But it's nice to see your name flashed across the screen all week long,'' Greg McDermott said. ''For our team to win three games in three days with all we've been through and the expectations that have been placed upon us this year, I'm really proud of them.''
Doug McDermott was still honored as the tournament MVP. He scored 41 points eight days earlier in Creighton's regular-season title clinching victory over the Shockers.
Wichita State shot just 34 percent and has dropped three of five. Cleanthony Early, who averages 14 points off the bench, was held to two.
Wichita State trailed by 13 with just over 5 minutes to go. The Shockers shaved the deficit to a point with a 10-0 run capped by Armstead's fourth 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining. Manigat's layup put the Bluejays back up by three.
''To me, it felt more like Muhammad Ali out there boxing,'' said reserve Ron Baker, who made a late 3-pointer to help close the gap. ''We were on the ropes and we fought back, we just came up one play short.''
Creighton was 11 for 24 from 3-point range without its best long-range threat making his shots. McDermott, now tied with Wragge for the team lead with 74 this season, was 0 for 3.
The Bluejays have won 12 MVC tournament championships, seven more than any other school, and won in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-03. Wichita State has not won the title since 1987.
Armstead scored 15 points in the semifinals against Illinois State after totaling 15 points his previous three games.
Creighton missed its first eight shots and Wichita State its first nine, and the teams were a combined 2 for 25 before settling down. Doug McDermott picked up two fouls in the first half that limited him to 13 minutes.