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
”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
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
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
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
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
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
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.