The Creighton Bluejays pulled off an 83-79 overtime victory over the Illinois State Redbirds in the Missouri Valley Conference title game, giving the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bluejays nearly became the second consecutive ranked team to get upset by the Redbirds in the tournament after No. 14 Wichita State lost in the semifinals.
But Illinois State's run towards an NCAA Tournament appearance is likely over, as the team essentially needed to get the automatic bid from winning the conference tournament to land in the 66-team field. The Redbirds finish the year at 20-13, while No. 24 Creighton moves up to 28-5.
The Redbirds led at halftime, 31-30, and maintained a solid effort all night. They led 51-45 roughly midway through the second half before a Creighton run gave the Bluejays the lead. The two teams traded leads all night long, with Illinois State matching numerous Creighton baskets in the final minutes.
In overtime, Creighton quickly took advantage and didn't relinquish the lead. The Bluejays began overtime on a 9-2 run and led by as many as nine points. Illinois State made things interesting in the final minute by knocking down three consecutive three-point shots, but Antoine Young made four free throws in the final minute to stave off the comeback.
Creighton's Doug McDermott, one of the nation's top scorers, was the game's leading scorer with 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting. The Bluejays also got 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Grant Gibbs. Illinois State had a balanced offensive attack, led by Nic Moore's 20 points and five assists. The Redbirds also got 17 points from Jackie Carmichael and 16 points from Tyler Brown.
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