ST. CHARLES, Mo. - Creighton knocked off Drake 53-38 in the championship game of the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon at The Family Arena to claim the second tournament title in school history. Tournament MVP Carli Tritz led the Bluejays with 19 points and McKenzie Fujan tied her career-high with 12 points in the victory as the Jays advance to their first NCAA Tournament in 10 years with the win.
Creighton, appearing in its fourth MVC Tournament title game in the last six years, was able to capture its second MVC Tournament title, joining the 2002 team as league champions. The win puts the Bluejays in their fourth NCAA Tournament, as they've previously been to the tournament in 1992, 1994 and 2002.
Tritz scored 15 points in the second half after scoring 27 second-half points in the semifinals to earn tournament MVP honors. Sarah Nelson scored 12 points, including a pair of first-half three-pointers and joined Tritz on the all-tournament team.
Creighton scored the final four points of the first half to go ahead 20-16 and then opened the second half on a 17-6 run which featured 14 unanswered points as the Bulldogs appeared to tire while playing their fourth game in four days. Fujan keyed the second half run, as the sophomore scored the first 11 points of the half for the Jays. She drained three three-pointers in that span and three shots in three straight possesions to force a Drake timeout after her third triple.
Drake, the No. 7 seed, had one last run left in it, as the Bulldogs put together a 14-2 run to get within three points, down 39-36 with 6:15 left in the game.
Creighton responded with its own 14-2 game-ending run, which started on a Jordan Garrison basket and included back-to-back three-pointers from Ally Jensen and Tritz.
Tritz made all six of her free-throw attempts in the final 70 seconds to ice the game and secure the championship. The sophomore finished with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Fujan hit a career-high three three-point field goals in a three-minute span to start the second half as she equalled her career-high with 12 points. Nelson hit 4-of-8 shots, made 2-of-3 three-pointers and both of her free-throw attempts to finish with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
In addition to her key late three-pointer, Jensen grabbed a career-high eight rebounds to help the Bluejays outrebound the top-rebounding team in the league 29-28.
MVC Player of the Year Rachael Hackbarth logged a double-double to lead Drake (18-15) with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Morgan Reid added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Creighton shot 50 percent from the field (10-20) in the second half and made 5-of-9 (.556) three-pointers after halftime. CU made 11-of-12 (.917) shots at the free-throw line in the game.
The Bluejays are now 20-12 on the season, the sixth time in 10 years under head coach Jim Flanery the Bluejays have recorded 20 wins. Creighton will await to hear of its postseason fate when the brackets are revealed on Monday night at 6 pm (CST) on ESPN. Just as they were today, fans and media are invited to attend the selection show gathering at D.J. Sokol Arena on campus. Doors will open at 5:30 pm for the event.
NOTES: Creighton was the No. 4 seed, making the No. 4 seed 3-0 in MVC Tournament finals all-time ... Creighton had lost its previous three trips to the finals and is now 2-5 all-time in the championship game ... The Bluejays are 8-4 in 12 games played in St. Charles, holding opponents under 50 points in seven of the 12 contests played at the neutral site ... Before today's win, Flan had the most wins in league history of any coach without an NCAA Tournament appearance ... Tritz averaged 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game at the tournament, making 20-of-26 (.769) free throws in the event ... Tritz's 20 free throws and 26 attempts set Creighton tournament records, breaking the marks of 18 and 24 set by Carrie Welle in the 1998 tournament ... Tritz is averaging 19.5 points per game in her four career tournament games, a school record (Christy Neneman's former record was 18.6 ppg) ... Nelson blocked nine shots in the tournament tying the school tournament record set by Jenny Olson in 1994 ... The win was Flanery's 190th as head coach, moving his winning percentage to .597, which is a school record ... Tritz moved past 800 career points by scoring 59 points three games this weekend, the sophomore now has 801 points in two seasons ... Creighton is 22-18 all-time at the MVC Tournament, 8-4 in St. Charles, 6-3 against Drake and 2-1 against the Bulldogs in the title game ... Wichita State's Haleigh Lankster, Drake's Hackbarth and Missouri State's Casey Garrison joined Nelson and Tritz on the all-tournament team ... Creighton is 2-3 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, winning games in both 1992 and 1994.
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