You could hear the air slowly leaking out of the Jays balloon as they came out really flat with no energy sporting an almost double digit deficit in the first half and then being down 13 early in the second. Then the Jays turned on the pressure and you could see a little spark.
The Jays scratched a clawed their way back into the game and a stretch of 6 key plays were the catalyst to get the Jays enough to get over the hump and to get a victory against Missouri St. on their Senior Night–something that had not happened in 19 years.
First the Jays decide to start to press and Justin Carter gets a steal and the ball over to P’Allen Stinnett for his only 3-pointer of the night. Then on a loose ball, Kaleb Korver dives on the floor and in a situation where most times than not they call a jump ball, they actually called a foul on Missouri St. Korver hits those two free throws. Then it was the Cavel Witter/Casey Harriman duo that made three straight 3-point plays that gave the Jays their first lead of the night. On a night where Josh Dotzler and Antoine Young did not have it, Cavel Witter took over the point and dribbled his way to 2 straight drive and kick outs to a waiting Harriman who drilled the 3-pointers. Then Witter kept it himself and drove to the basket for a three point play. Finally with just over a minute to go, Witter and Harriman ran the same play as before and Harriman hit his third 3-pointer of the night.
The obvious gameplan for the Bears was to play high pressure defense and to take Booker Woodfox out of the game. They pretty much did that as Woodfox only had 7 points and very few opportunities. For a good 30 minutes the Jays were definitely out of synch waiting for the good things to happen. The Jays however forced turnovers and turned the 19 turnovers by Missouri St. in to 20 points. The Jays had many unforced turnovers with 8 in the first half, but then held on to the ball better the second half with only 5.
But the story of the game is the bench. The Jays bench scored 35 of the 65 points. Witter had 11 points, Harriman had 10 points and Kenton Walker had 8. But the key stat for Witter was his 6 assists to only 1 turnover. Creighton needed a guy to step up and Witter was that guy. He has played hard all year even in the tough times trying to find his role. It paid off tonight.
Again the double post of Kenton Walker and Kenny Lawson produced with a combined 16 points and 10 rebounds. The biggest thing about those numbers is that the shots Walker and Lawson made were from about 15 feet out, they were not able to get inside to score, so those were gutty shots and key points for them. P’Allen Stinnett had 11 points but was somewhat quiet.
As I sat scoreboard watching the UNI/Illinois St. game, it was back and forth and went to a first overtime, and then a 2nd overtime and looked like it was headed to a third overtime, but then the ESPN Gametracker all of a sudden changed the time back to 1 second and UNI’s Adam Koch scored off a Johnny Moran miss all in one second. That had to be a heck of a game. It was a shame that game wasn’t on TV.
The Jays now head into Saturday’s game against an ESPN2 audience with the opportunity to either tie or outright win the MVC regular season championship. Northern Iowa dodged a bullet tonight as they got what must have been an amazing last second shot in the 2nd overtime as UNI snuck out of Normal with the win and still a chance for them to get the MVC championship as well. The Jays can only control what they can and a Senior Day win against Illinois St. is what it will come down to. Then their hope is that UNI loses on their own Senior Day in Cedar falls.
Saturday’s game is a BLUE OUT. Make sure to wear your Blue.