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Rebounding edge lifts Wichita State past No. 12 Creighton

The SportsXchange

WICHITA, Kan. -- Wichita State pulled No. 12 Creighton back to the pack in the Missouri Valley Conference race.

It wasn't easy. The Shockers shot poorly and blew chances to put the game away at the foul line. They survived with a big rebounding edge to defeat the Bluejays 67-64 on Saturday at Koch Arena.

"Our problems started when the ball went up to the rim," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "To come in here and win, you've got to have a little more toughness."

WSU (17-2, 6-1 MVC) ended Creighton's 11-game win streak and joined the Bluejays in a tie atop the conference standings. The teams meet in Omaha on March 2 in the regular-season finale.

"We didn't allow them to separate," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. "They're a very good team and they've got a great chance to be right there at the end. Hopefully, we can be right there with them."

WSU shot 38 percent from the field and 17.4 percent from 3-point range. Forward Carl Hall, who scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, missed 5 of 6 free throws in the final two minutes. Somehow, the Shockers held off the nation's best shooting team. Scoring 23 second-chance points on 22 offensive rebounds helped.

"They killed us on the boards," Creighton forward Doug McDermott said.

McDermott, who averages 24 points, scored 25 on 10-of-19 shooting. Grant Gibbs added 14 and no other Bluejay reached double figures. Center Gregory Echenique, playing with a sprained right wrist, grabbed 13 rebounds.

"We put an emphasis on rebounding and defense," WSU guard Tekele Cotton said. "They're tough, because all of them are good shooters."

Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. He made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining for the final margin. He also stole the ball from McDermott to preserve a 64-63 lead with 1:13 to play.

Creighton's Ethan Wragge missed on two chances to tie with his team down 67-64. He missed a corner 3 with eight seconds to play. After Hall missed two free throws, Wragge's shot from the top of the key was too hard in the final second.

"We got what we wanted," Greg McDermott said. "We got him two good looks in the last few seconds to tie it."

Hall missed three straight free throws before making one for a 65-63 lead with 34 seconds to play. Creighton's Gibbs missed one foul shot and made one to cut the lead to one with 34 seconds to play. WSU broke Creighton's press to run time off the clock before the Bluejays fouled Armstead. He made both free throws for a 67-64 lead.

NOTES: McDermott exceeded his previous high of 13 points, in four games, against WSU early in the second half. He averaged 10.3 points in those meetings... Hall tied his career high with 13 rebounds. He also grabbed 13 in a game last season against Creighton... Creighton's total of 64 points was its lowest since a 64-42 win over Nebraska in December. Those are the only two times Creighton scored below 70 points this season... WSU committed a season-low seven turnovers.
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