No. 25 Creighton holds off determined Drake
A dry spell at the beginning of the second half was too much for Drake to overcome against No. 25 Creighton.
Doug McDermott and Creighton earned a 68-61 victory over Drake on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
''The scoring drought in the second half ended up being a tough situation to overcome,'' Drake coach Mark Phelps said. ''At the same time, I thought our guys did a great job battling back to get in the game.''
Rayvonte Rice led Drake (17-15) with 15 points. Kurt Alexander added 14 and Jordan Clarke and Ben Simons each contributed 11 points.
''I'd say our shots just weren't falling,'' said Rice about the slow start in the second half that allowed Creighton to build a 13-point lead. ''I mean, they played great defense. Give them some credit but some of our shots wouldn't fall. It was a great game.
''It came down to us needing to make some shots and we couldn't get it done.''
McDermott finished with 26 points.
''I struggled a little in the first half,'' McDermott said. ''I had to let the game come to me. My teammates did a good job of finding me. That got my confidence up throughout the whole half.''
Antoine Young scored 16 points for Creighton (26-5). The Bluejays advanced to play the winner of the Evansville-Missouri State game on Saturday.
McDermott, the MVC player of the year, does more than score for Creighton. He also rebounds well. McDermott grabbed an offensive rebound - his only one to go along with nine on defense - and put up back the ball back in to make it 63-55 with 2:10 to play.
''McDermott hit some big 3's in the second half but he got a big offensive rebound and put it back in,'' Phelps said. ''He makes some big plays. He hit some tough shots. He's a terrific player.''
Creighton won all three matchups this season with the Bulldogs, but they did not go quietly in this one.
Drake was down by 13 points with 4:33 left, but cut the gap 63-60 on a short jump shot by Rice with 1:24 remaining. That would be as close as the Bulldogs would come.
Creighton went 5 for 6 from the free throw line to secure the victory.
Alexander connected on a jumper with 17:43 to play to give Drake its last lead at 38-37.
Creighton then took command. The Bluejays went on a 10-2 run to lead 47-40 with 12:09 left. Creighton extended its lead to 52-42 on a 3-point field goal from deep in the left corner along the baseline by Josh Jones at 9:01.
The Bluejays' biggest lead was 13 points at 61-48 when Jahenns Manigat made a long jumper just before the shot clock expired.
''We weren't quite as aggressive as I wanted us to be in the first half,'' said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, who is Doug's father. ''Defensively, we competed harder in the second half than in the first.''
In the first half, there were seven ties and three lead changes.
Drake jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the 2:59.
''We've gotten off to some starts like that this year but we have confidence in each other,'' Doug McDermott said. ''We didn't get off to the best start and they were shooting lights out. We couldn't get anything to fall. We just had to keep our cool out there and stick together. We knew good things would happen.''
Creighton scored its first basket at the 16:50 mark on a basket by Young.
''We were playing pretty good basketball there at the beginning,'' said Simons, who was the only player to be on the court for 40 minutes.
A layup by Young put Creighton ahead 35-34 at halftime.
''We got off to a rough start there,'' said Manigat, who scored eight points. ''Coach let us play through it and we were just going to have to climb out of it.''