No. 25 Creighton 83, Illinois St. 79

It was fitting that when it came down to the final snip of the

nets, Antoine Young got the honor.

The lone senior starter for No. 25 Creighton stepped up when it

counted, scoring eight of his 14 points in overtime as the Bluejays

survived Illinois State’s bid for a second straight upset with an

83-79 victory in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final on

Sunday.

”We are a team. No single individual brought us to this day,”

said Doug McDermott, the conference player of the year, who led

Creighton with 33 points and was selected tournament MVP after

scoring the most points ever in the championship game. ”I will

remember this season forever.”

Young was 6 for 8 at the free throw line in overtime after going

just 2 for 6 in regulation.

”You’ve got to step up and make plays, you’ve got to do it,”

Young said during the on-court celebration. ”They’re a dangerous

team, but we just stuck with it. We just kept fighting and we got

it done.”

Grant Gibbs added a career-high 20 points for Creighton, the No.

2 seed, which won the conference tournament for the seventh time in

14 seasons and earned its first NCAA bid since 2007.

The Bluejays were 3-0 against fourth-seeded Illinois State

(20-13), which knocked off 15th-ranked and top-seeded Wichita State

by a point in the semifinals, the first two by nine and 28

points.

Gibbs’ topped his previous best of 12 points, perhaps buying

some space for McDermott.

”I knew my stroke was there,” Gibbs said. ”Coach told me

`They’re probably going to sag off you so step up and make some

shots.”’

Freshman Nic Moore had 20 points for Illinois State, seven in

overtime. He drove the length of the court for a layup with 6.5

seconds to go in regulation that forced overtime. Young tried to

duplicate that feat on the other end but missed with 2 seconds left

and Gregory Echenique missed a tip-in at the buzzer.

Jackie Carmichael added 17 points and nine rebounds for Illinois

State, which hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1998. Tyler

Brown had 16 points and John Ekey added 13.

”If you couldn’t tell how badly this team wanted to win this

tournament, you must have been eating a lot of popcorn,” coach Tim

Jankovich said. ”To fall that short of an NCAA bid is painful

beyond words.”

The Valley expects to get two NCAA bids, ending a four-year

slump in which the conference got one bid each time, with regular

season champion Wichita State among the top teams in the nation in

the RPI. Illinois State likely will settle for an NIT bid.

”The NIT being the next biggest one, we’ll take it,” Ekey

said. ”These last couple days, hopefully we showed everybody that

we deserved to be in it.”

McDermott was potent inside and out, going 12 of 18 from the

field with three 3-pointers while exhausting an assortment of

defenders. He broke the school’s season scoring record set in

1968-69 in the first half and put Creighton on his back much of the

second half, scoring 17 of the Bluejays’ 19 points in one

stretch.

The Bluejays led by nine points with 1:15 to go after Josh

Jones’ fastbreak dunk. Young was 4 for 6 from the line in the final

32 seconds after Illinois State hit three 3-pointers.

Coach Greg McDermott, Doug McDermott’s father, became the first

Valley coach to win the tournament at two schools. He won in 2004

at Northern Iowa.

”I remember like it was yesterday when I was a fourth-grade kid

with my dad on that stage,” Doug McDermott said. ”Now, I got to

win one as a player.”

Creighton won without much from Echenique, who was held to eight

points and seven rebounds. Echenique had 20 points, nine rebounds

and three blocks in 20 minutes in the semifinal win over

Evansville.

Creighton was 3 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half, a

day after starting 8 for 11 from long range while building a

19-point lead against Evansville. Illinois State took advantage of

the misfires, closing the half on a 15-3 run capped by Tyler

Brown’s 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds to go that gave it the lead.

Creighton had one basket over the final 6:47 after McDermott’s

one-handed tip-in made it 27-16. Echenique was on the bench the

final 3:11 after getting his second foul.