Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 3/4/12
ST. LOUIS Creighton guard Grant Gibbs sat on the bench during two NCAA tournament games as a freshman at Gonzaga in 2010. His career day ensured he'll do plenty more than watch this year. The Gonzaga transfer had a career-best 20 points including five big points in overtime to lead the Blue Jays to a 83-79 overtime win over upset-minded Illinois State Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament finals. Creighton, which likely still would have been an at-large selection to the tournament had they lost, cemented their status anyway by winning and earning the automatic bid. "It's been unbelievable, honestly," Gibbs said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more with this experience, but we're not done yet, there's no doubt about that. "I was going to keep shooting if they were going to leave me open and knocking that one down got my confidence and got me rolling a little bit." Gibbs hit a couple huge shots down the stretch including a three-pointer with 1:29 left that put Creighton up 63-60. After an ill-advised foul on Illinois State with 11 seconds left and the score tied, Gibbs calmly sank a pair of free throws to put the Blue Jays up 66-64. After Illinois State tied the game and sent it to overtime, Gibbs opened the extra period with a three-pointer that put Creighton up 69-66. The Blue Jays never trailed again, winning their seventh MVC postseason tournament title in the past 14 years. "Grant was huge," said forward Doug McDermott, who led Creighton with 33 points. "He's been waiting for this all year. It's huge for Grant. I'm so proud of him. He's like a brother to me, so it's great to see him perform like that." Gibbs had only scored in double figures in nine games this season and hadn't scored more than seven points in any of his past nine games. But he quickly changed that with a layup early in the second half that gave him eight for the game. The junior had nine points in the second half and five in overtime, taking advantage of open looks with the defense keyed in on the hot-shooting McDermott. "That's what coach told me, if they are going to double up Doug, I have to step up and be ready to shoot," Gibbs said. "They did a great job of finding me. "It felt good to make a couple shots. They came at timely points. To give us a lead there in overtime was huge." Gibbs, who also redshirted when Gonzaga went to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, is the only Creighton player to have previously experienced the big dance. The Blue Jays will make their first appearance in the tournament since 2007. "I know we haven't been to the tournament in a few years and to make it back means a lot to us and I know it means a lot to the fans," Gibbs said. "I'm just happy we won. The last couple weeks I've been battling through some stuff, haven't played as well as I have early in the year and I think it hurt us a little bit. To come out here and play well, it means a lot, but just getting this team back in the tournament, that's what its all about."
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