Wichita State tops No. 12 Creighton, 67-64
By DAVE SKRETTA
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) The numbers just didn't add up for Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.
His tough, gritty Shockers were 4 of 23 from beyond the arc. They shot a shade under 39 percent from the field. They were 9 of 19 from the free throw line, missing three critical ones in the final minutes of the game.
Somehow, the numbers still added up to a win.
Carl Hall had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Malcolm Armstead hit two key free throws in the closing seconds and Wichita State held on to beat Doug McDermott and No. 12 Creighton 67-64 on Saturday to forge a tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference.
"I can't really explain it," Marshall said. "I'll take it and move on."
Armstead finished with 15 points, Cleanthony Early added 13 and Demetric Williams had 10 for the Shockers (17-2, 6-1 MVC), who pushed their home-court winning streak to 17 games.
McDermott finished with 25 points for the Bluejays (17-2, 6-1), but he never got the ball with the game on the line. Instead, Ethan Wragge misfired on a potential tying 3 with 6 seconds left, and then had another chance when Hall missed two free throws at the other end.
This time, Wragge's shot from the top of the key clanked off the back of the rim.
"We got two good looks in the last 10 seconds to tie it. We got what we wanted, they just didn't go in," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.
"It really came down to the offensive glass," he added.
That's where the Shockers piled up 22 rebounds, helping to atone for their own poor shooting by relentlessly pursuing every loose ball - channeling their inner Marshall, who spent the entire afternoon stomping, and marching and imploring, with boundless enthusiasm.
"We didn't let them separate. That's the thing," said Marshall, whose team would have fallen two games behind in the league race with a loss. "They're a very good team and they have a great chance to be right there at the end."
Naturally, the teams meet again in their regular-season finales.
Grant Gibbs finished with 14 points for the Bluejays, who trailed almost the entire way while having their 11-game winning streak snapped. Creighton hadn't lost since Nov. 28.
Hall gave the Shockers a 65-63 lead when he made the second of two free throws with 48.3 seconds left, but Gibbs - a 67 percent foul shooter - only made one of two with 25.3 seconds to go, allowing the Shockers to cling to a lead and forcing Creighton to foul.
Wichita State got the ball to Anthony on the inbounds, and after getting fouled, he calmly made both free throws for a 67-64 lead with 15.3 seconds left.
That set up Wragge's two misfires, the second as the final horn sounded.
"The basketball gods were good for us today," Hall said with a smile, "because usually they don't miss free throws like that."
It was little surprise that a game between last season's regular-season champion, Wichita State, and tournament champion Creighton would come down to the wire. They have played 29 games decided by 12 or fewer points since 1994-95.
The Shockers were thankful to have Hall back in the lineup.
The senior forward had energy to burn after missing seven games with a thumb injury, at one point scoring six straight points for the Shockers underneath. Later in the half, he missed two layups and got two offensive boards before finally scoring for a 25-19 lead.
Hall was also doing his duty on defense, one of several defenders that Marshall attached to McDermott throughout the game.
After scoring 39 points against Missouri State and 31 in a win over Northern Iowa, the son of Creighton coach Greg McDermott struggled just to find enough space to put up a shot. McDermott was just 3 of 8 from the field before Gibbs found him at the top of the key for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, pulling the Bluejays within 36-33 at halftime.
Wichita State extended its lead to 49-42 with 15:15 left before Creighton went on a run.
McDermott's basket and an open 3-pointer by Gibbs helped to trigger a 10-2 charge, and a jumper by Austin Chatman gave the Bluejays their first lead at 52-51 with 11:28 left.
Buoyed by a capacity crowd of 10,506, the Shockers refused to give in, and a flagrant foul on Gibbs sent Tekele Cotton to the foul line and helped Wichita State pull back ahead.
The Bluejays got within 64-63 when they took advantage of a 5-on-4 situation with Early, who had landed hard and hit his head, still rolling around under the other basket. McDermott scored with a baseline jumper with 2:17 left in the game.
It was the last basket he would make in the game, though, and the Shockers managed to coax the final seconds off the clock as the capacity crowd erupted.
"This is as good as it gets for a college basketball atmosphere," Doug McDermott said. "It's tough to come here to win. I've lost two times in three years here. It's always been one of my favorite places to play. It's as good as it gets in college basketball."
Updated January 19, 2013