OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - St. John’s dared Doug McDermott to beat the Red Storm. He did.
McDermott hit a falling-away, 25-footer with 2.5 seconds left to finish his season-high 39-point night, and No. 20 Creighton won 63-60 after squandering all of an 18-point lead Tuesday.
It was the second time this season McDermott won a game in the last seconds. He did it against Saint Joseph’s in November.
“At home this is the best feeling I’ve ever had,” McDermott said. “That Saint Joe’s one was pretty good, too. This tops it.”
The two-time returning All-America carried his team to its 13th win in 14 games, keeping the Bluejays (18-3, 8-1) in first place in the Big East. St. John’s (12-9, 2-6), playing in Omaha for the first time since 1966, had its three-game winning streak end.
McDermott bounced back from a tough shooting game in a win over Georgetown on Saturday to turn in one of his greatest all-around performances.
The Red Storm had just tied the game on Rysheed Jordan’s two free throws before McDermott took a pass from Jahenns Manigat on the left wing. Isaiah Zierden set a screen for McDermott, and he got off his fade-away 3-pointer just as shot-blocking specialist Chris Obekpa broke through to wave a hand in his face.
“Big-time shot by a big-time player,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said.
The Red Storm had a last chance to tie, but Phil Greene IV’s shot at the buzzer didn’t even touch the net.
It was a fitting end for McDermott, whose monster game offset an otherwise poor offensive showing by the Bluejays.
St. John’s defensive strategy was to take away all the complementary pieces of Creighton’s offense.
“We have the best player in America as a great counter for that,” Manigat said.
In particular, the Red Storm took away Ethan Wragge, who tied a school record with nine 3-pointers in a 28-point win over Villanova last week.
“Last week was Ethan Wragge Week across the country,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said, “so I would certainly think about doing the same thing, especially if you have the length and athletic ability that coach Lavin has. Doug hit some tough shots. As a defense, that’s what you’re after.”
McDermott was making a lot of those tough shots and had his seventh 30-point game of the season. He finished 15 of 26 from the field, including 5 of 9 on 3s. He had six rebounds, including a couple of big ones late.