Creighton escapes with win over 'Bama

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 16, 2012
Creighton's drought in the NCAA tournament is over. Doug McDermott scored 16 points and the Bluejays overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Alabama 58-57 Friday for their first tournament victory in 10 years. Alabama had a chance to win during the frantic final seconds, but Josh Jones blocked Trevor Releford's 3-point attempt from the top of the key as time expired. Releford sat on the floor after the shot looking for a foul call, but it never came. McDermott, the MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference and the nation's third-leading scorer at 23.2 points per game, was held scoreless for more than 14 minutes but then scored nine points down the stretch. He grabbed a huge rebound with 33 seconds left after teammate Greg Echenique missed the front end of a one-and-one. McDermott was fouled immediately and converted one of two shots to put the Bluejays up by three. Alabama answered with an inside basket from Andrew Steele to cut the lead to 58-57 and Jones missed two free throws on the other end. After Jones' miss, Alabama brought the ball up the court, but Creighton used its last foul before the bonus to stop the clock at 4.7 seconds. The Crimson Tide inbounded the ball but then coach Anthony Grant mysteriously called timeout with 2.4 seconds left. After the huddle the play went to Releford, who got the ball at the top of the key and made a move toward the basket before taking a step back to shoot the 3-pointer. Jones got a hand in on the shot and the ball fell well short of the basket. It was Creighton's first tournament victory since Terrell Taylor drilled a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in double overtime to lift the Bluejays to an upset win over Florida in 2002. Releford led Alabama (21-12) with 14 points and Trevor Lacey added 13. The game pitted two teams with contrasting styles as Creighton (29-5) came in with the seventh-highest scoring offense in the country while Alabama entered with the best defense in the Southeastern Conference. It was an evenly played game until Alabama began to take control late in the first half. The Crimson Tide held Creighton without a field goal over the final 4:55 and closed with a 10-0 run to take a 30-23 lead into the locker room. Alabama pushed its lead to 11 early in the second half, but Creighton responded with a 12-1 run to pull even. The Bluejays finally took the lead with 5:38 remaining when McDermott converted on an entry pass to the low post to put his team up 51-50.
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