MSU Upset Hopes Fall Just Short Against No. 18 Creighton

Jan. 18, 2012

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SPRINGFIELD -- Missouri State (11-9, 4-4) took No. 18 Creighton down to the wire, but could not get the potential game-winning shot to fall in the deciding moments here Wednesday as the Bluejays escaped JQH Arena with a 66-65 Missouri Valley Conference win and ended a six-game losing streak against the Bears.

With Creighton (17-2, 7-1) ahead 66-65 in the final minute, the Bears forced the visitors into their 14th turnover of the night with 22.6 seconds remaining. An errant pass by Grant Gibbs gave the ball back to MSU with a chance to complete the upset. The Bears quickly called a timeout, and set up a play for Kyle Weems who found resistence along the right baseline but still got off a partially-blocked jumper. Creighton's Doug McDermott snagged the rebound and was fouled with 6.4 ticks left.  

McDermott missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Bears -- who were out of timeouts -- put their fate in the hands of Anthony Downing who dribbled to the elbow, pulled up and narrowly missed the potential game-winner, which bounced off the rim as the horn sounded.

Gregory Echenique had game-highs 16 points and 7 rebounds for Creighton, which won its seventh game in a row since a Dec. 28 loss to MSU in Omaha. McDermott added 15 for the Bluejays.

The Bears had four scorers in double figures, including Downing with 14, Weems with 13, and 11 apiece from Jarmar Gulley and Caleb Patterson. Weems matched Echenique's game-high with 7 rebounds, and Michael Bizoukas posted 8 assists with a single turnover.

The late-game drama has proven all too common for MSU of late. The Bears lost their second one-point decision in less than a week and also dropped an overtime game during their current three-game MVC skid.

Coming out of the locker room with a 34-30 lead, it looked like the late tension would not be necessary in this battle. MSU got jumpers from Christian Kirk and Gulley in the first minute of the second half to move ahead 38-30. But the Jays kept battling and used their drive-and-pitch offense to get three layups, a put-back and a three-pointer over an 11-2 run in just under three minutes to take a 45-42 lead with 13:56 to play.

MSU would tie the game three times over the next couple of minutes before a Keith Pickens free throw and a Downing steal and layup got the crowd of 9,124 back in the game and put the Bears ahead 52-49 at the 10:28 mark.

Over the next five minutes, the lead would change hands three more times. Downing's two free throws with 2:56 remaining tied the game 63-63. Gibbs tacked on a free throw 13 seconds later to put CU ahead by one, and then he split the MSU defense for a layup with just 67 ticks left gave Creighton a 66-63 advantage.

Gulley knocked down a clutch jumper in traffic to make it a 66-65 contest with 55 seconds left to play, but the Bears missed the two potential game-winners in the final 6.4 seconds to lose their fourth home game of the season.

MSU committed just three turnovers on the night and made 25-of-64 (.391) field goals. The Bears were 5-of-20 (.250) from three-point range and 10-of-14 (.714) at the line.

The Jays out-rebounded the Bears 33-30, but Missouri State collected 12 offensive rebounds -- their second-highest total of the season -- to help spark nine second-chance points. There were 16 ties and 10 lead changes in the contest.

Creighton, the top-shooting team in the country, finished 25-of-45 (.556) from the field and 5-of-16 (.313) from beyond the arc. Their 11-for-14 (.786) effort at the line was significant with the teams hitting the same number of field goals and three-pointers.

In the first half, Creighton committed 11 turnovers to push the Bears ahead by four at the break. The first 20 minutes saw eight ties and five lead changes, but none more significant than a 5-0 Bears run late in the half that saw MSU move from a 27-25 deficit to a 30-27 lead on a jumper by Bizoukas and a traditional three-point play by Downing with 6:38 to go.  MSU climbed ahead by four on a pair of free throws and a late jumper by Weems to make it 34-30. Creighton had just two field goals -- both by Echenique -- in the final eight minutes of the half.

MSU will take to the road on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. game at Bradley (6-14, 1-7) as it looks to move out of a three-way tie for fourth in the MVC standings.



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