Creighton 67, Indiana State 62; Missouri State 60, Creighton 54
I’m racking my brains, trying to think of some creative (or “cutesy” as Mom would say) ways to describe the jubilation of Creighton’s double-digit comeback on Senior Night against Indiana Sate, or the frustration of watching the offense sputter while Missouri State kept the Jays at an arm’s length before posting a 6-point win to close out the regular season.
Sure, Senior Night was fun. I take that back; the second half of Senior Night was fun. The first half put most of Section 123 (and I can only assume the rest of the Qwest Center) on the edge of their seats swearing under their breath and hoping the Jays could climb out of an 11-point hole that David Moss had buried them in.
The Jays ended up outscoring the Sycamores 40-24 in the second frame, with Johnny Mathies (18), Anthony Tolliver (15), and Nick Porter (14) leading the way with double-figure scoring.
But as Senior Nights go, this one was going to make some of the younger folks in the crowd go “senior” a little prematurely, with no doubt some gray hairs sprouting from a few heads at The Phone Booth.
I mean, can’t we have one blowout at home every once and awhile? I guess with the Missouri Valley Conference as good as it is this year, those kinds of games are few and far between.
A Bear of a Time Shooting the Ball
Had the whole evening planned. I was going to watch Northern Iowa beat Southern Illinois in Carbondale, watch Illinois State shock Wichita State on its home floor, and then go to Pauli’s and enjoy the Jays and Missouri State battling in a close (but hopefully) win for Creighton.
I probably just should have stayed in bed Saturday, huh?
I didn’t really think Wichita State would lose to the Redbirds, but when I flipped on the T.V. after church and Porter Moser’s team was winning in the second half, I was pleasantly surprised. That didn’t last long.
The more frustrating outcome earlier in the day was Northern Iowa’s inability to run any of their famous set-offense magic. I mean, for as many sets as Greg McDermott supposedly runs, and for as dynamic as their backcourt-frontcourt combinations are, they sure do settle for a lot of, for a lack of a better term, crappy shots. This, as we all know, plays right into the hands of the Southern Illinois Salukis.
So, with two down and one to go, Panon and my buddy B-Kis and I roll into Pauli’s. It was a smallish crowd; a bunch of die-hards gathered around some of the flat screens above the bar.
I just wanted 20 wins. That seems like such a magical number in the world of college basketball; especially with all of the bracketologist-wannabe know-it-alls who talk about “locks” and “bubbles” and “seeds” like they operate some weird kind of all-in-one boutique at a farmer’s market.
More importantly, we controlled our own destiny. Win, and the 6 p.m. Friday game in St. Louis is all ours, complete with an opponent that plays a little less than 24 hours before the quarterfinal match-up. That’s as close to priceless as things come at Arch Madness.
Plus, I was really rooting for Tolliver to play a great game. He is 0-2 against the Bears in his hometown, his mom just got out of the hospital from a car crash, and I’m sure he had tons of friends and family gathered to watch him come home.
However, the Jays couldn’t overcome a putrid offensive night (even with pretty good defense all game), and my third wish for the night disappeared just about as quickly as the Bud and Miller Lights the three of us enjoyed under the Jim Hendry jersey hanging on Pauli’s wall.
The only thing that really went right was Anthony Tolliver’s game; again, just a phenomenal job by the junior center. 19 points (3-6 from three-point range; perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line) and 5 rebounds to go with 4 blocked shots and an assist. Other than Porter (13 points), every other Jay had offensive nights that were simply that – offensive.
But yet, there we were. The Jays have proven resiliency all season, and we led with just under 9 minutes to play and were only down by 4 in clutch moments late in the second half. But we just couldn’t get the shots to fall.
Later This Week:
Preview of Missouri Valley Conference “Arch Madness” Post-Season Tournament
Preview of Creighton-Bradley Quarterfinal