Missouri State used a game ending 15-9 run to come up with a 67-61 win over Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton in the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on Wednesday at JQH Arena.
With the win, Missouri State will host next Tuesday’s CIT championship game against either Pacific or Appalachian State. Their game was pushed back a day to Thursday due to travel problems for Pacific getting out of Denver yesterday. Missouri State improved to 23-12 overall with the victory. Its 18 home wins (in 20 home games overall) is tied with Kansas and Kentucky for most home wins nationally.
Missouri State scored on Will Creekmore’s three-point play 13 seconds into the game and did not trail in the first half. The Bears took their largest lead at 29-20 on a three by Jermaine Mallett. Creighton answered with back-to-back three-pointers by Ethan Wragge, but a three-pointer by Justin Fuehrmeyer on MSU’s final shot of the half gave the host Bears a 34-26 halftime lead.
Creighton showed some signs of life to start the second half, scoring the first five points to draw within 34-31. With MSU leading 36-33, Jermaine Mallett converted a rare four-point play to extend MSU’s lead to seven points, and Fuehrmeyer followed that with his third three-pointer of the night (and 10th of the season) to give the Bears their first double-figure lead.
Creighton scored nine points in its next three trips, getting a conventional three-point play by Antoine Young and two straight three-pointers from distance by center Kenny Lawson Jr, trimming the MSU lead to just with 12:17 left. A three-pointer from Adam Leonard ended CU’s spurt.
With MSU up 52-45, Creighton embarked on a 7-0 run to forge the game’s first tie at 52-all with 6:18 remaining. MSU’s Ricks scored on a drive inside and CU missed a chance to take its first lead when Josh Jones missed a trey from the right wing. On the ensuing possession MSU got a pair of offensive rebounds and would eventually get two free throws from Mallett to go ahead by four, and that lead went to six with five minutes left on a score from Creekmore. Leonard ended a two-minute scoreless drought from both teams with a long three-pointer as the lead ballooned to nine with three minutes left. Creighton twice would get back within six points on treys by Wragge, but got no closer the rest of the way.
Creighton shot 37.9 percent for the game, including 41.2 percent from three-point range. The Bluejays also made 10-of-13 free throws (76.9 percent). Lawson led Creighton with 21 points, while Young tallied 17 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. Wragge also finished with 12 points for CU.
Missouri State shot 44.4 percent for the game, including 32.0 percent from downtown. The Bears also made 11-of-14 shots at the line (78.6 percent). Leonard and Ricks each had 15 for the Bears, while Creekmore had 13and Mallett 11 points to help overcome a scoreless night for second-team all-Valley pick Kyle Weems.