Kyle Weems banked home a layup with 14.2 seconds left in the game to help Missouri State slip past visiting Creighton, 67-66, in Missouri Valley Conference play here Saturday afternoon before 10,655 fans at JQH Arena.
The Bears (16-4, 8-1) trailed the Bluejays for the first 38 minutes, 47 seconds of the nationally-televised game on ESPN2, but a floater by Jermaine Mallett with 1:13 remaining gave MSU its first lead of the game, 65-64. Mallett’s shot brought Missouri State all the way back from a 15-point, second-half deficit, marking the largest comeback of Coach Cuonzo Martin’s career.
Creighton (13-8, 5-4) responded from Mallett’s shot with an aggressive, off-balance shot from freshman Doug McDermott that gave a one-point lead back to the visitors with 43 seconds to go. On the next MSU possession, Will Creekmore missed a close-range shot in heavy traffic and was then called for a foul on the ensuing rebound to send Kaleb Korver to the line for the Jays. Korver missed the front end of the one-and-one with 27 ticks to go, and Weems snagged the rebound for the Bears.
The Bears brought the ball down with a chance to retake the lead, but Adam Leonard misfired on a jumper. However, Mallett was there for the offensive rebound, which Creighton knocked out of bounds. On the ensuing in-bound play, Nafis Ricks triggered the pass to Weems for an open layup, which proved to be the game-winner.
Creighton’s Antoine Young found heavy resistance from MSU’s defense in the final seconds, and when he lost the handle near mid-court, Mallett dove for the loose ball, deflected it to Leonard who dribbled the ball through a scrambling Creighton defense to run out the clock.
Weems finished with game highs 23 points and 12 rebounds on 11-for-17 shooting. He also blocked a pair of shots. Mallett scored 14 with six rebounds and was 4-for-4 at the free throw line. Ricks had eight points, eight rebounds and game-high 6 assists with no turnovers, while Leonard had nine points.
The victory for Missouri State extended the squad’s home winning streak to 19 straight, and the near-capacity crowd of 10,655 was the second-largest home crowd in Bears’ history.
Creighton was led by Young with 18 points, while McDermott had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Gregory Echenique also added 10 points and seven boards for the Bluejays.
Greg McDermott’s team led 35-29 at the intermission. However, after a jumper by Leonard trimmed MSU’s deficit to four to open the second half, Creighton reeled off 11 straight points over the next two-and-a-half minutes to build a 15-point advantage. CU’s lead remained in double figures until Creekmore converted a traditional three-point play with 11:34 to go to make it a 55-46 contest.
Weems helped MSU chip away from there, accounting for 9 points over a five-minute stretch, including a put-back at 3:56 that made it a 64-61 ball game.
Ricks dropped in a pair of free throws with just over three minutes to play to make it a 64-63 game where it remained until Mallett’s floater nearly two minutes later.
The Bears committed just six turnovers in the game and collected 12 second-chance points on 19 offensive rebounds. MSU had just one offensive rebound in its 67-55 win at Creighton on Jan. 4.
MSU finished 28-for-66 (.424) from the field, but just 2-for-12 (.167) from three-point range, a season-low. The Bears were 9-of-10 (.900) at the foul line and out-rebounded the Jays 38-29 overall and 22-12 in the second half.
Creighton shot an even .500 (26-for-52) and knocked down six three-pointers (6-of-15, .400). The Bluejays committed nine turnovers, blocked seven shots and made 8-of-12 (.667) at the free throw line.
The first-place Bears return to the road Tuesday at Drake (7:05 p.m.) in further Valley action before returning to JQH Arena next Sunday (Jan. 30) to battle defending league champion Northern Iowa.
Story courtesy of Missouri State athletics