NORMAN, Okla. – The Creighton women’s basketball team suffered a
heartbreaking loss in the final second of its game against No. 14 St. John’s Sunday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Nadirah McKenith's runner in the lane went through the hoop with one-tenth of a second left in regulation to give the third-seeded Red Storm a 69-67 win over the Bluejays as Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center.
The loss ended the Bluejays season at 20-13, while St. John’s moved to 23-9 and advanced to face Oklahoma in the second round on Tuesday.
Trailing 65-61 with under two minutes remaining, senior DaNae Moore put the Bluejays on her shoulders.
Moore converted a layup with 1:01 remaining to bring the Jays within a bucket. Seconds later during a stoppage of play, the Red Storm were whistled for a flagrant foul, sending Moore to the free throw line. With the season on the line, Moore showed her composure and hit both shots to tie the game at 65-65.
After the Red Storm converted two free throws of their own with 19 seconds remaining, sophomore Carli Tritz drove the lane to force contact, getting to the foul line with 5.7 seconds remaining. Tritz nailed the first free throw with ease, then after a St. John’s timeout, she evened the game at 67-67.
Unfortunately, McKenith had just enough time to rush down court and hit a high-arcing five-foot shot to steal the game.
The first portion of the game followed a path very familiar as Creighton got off to a slow start. St. John’s hit eight of its first 13 shots to build a 19-9 lead with 12:12 remaining in the first half.
Coming out of a media timeout, Moore and junior Ally Jensen rallied their team together. The move was prophetic as Moore drained back-to-back jumpers to pull the Jays within six. Following a Red Storm bucket, Jensen drilled a three from the wing to make it 21-18 with 9:27 left.
After the two teams exchanged buckets, Creighton took its first lead of the game, 29-28, behind two free throws from Tritz and a running layup by sophomore Sarah Nelson.
St. John’s would close the half with six of the final nine points to take a 34-32 lead into the break.
Early in the second half, the Jays played their best basketball with their backs to the wall. Trailing 58-49 with 7:49 left, Creighton responded with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes.
Once again Moore and Jensen ignited the Jays. Moore started things off with two free throws, then Jensen nabbed a steal resulting in an easy layup for Moore. Moments later, Jensen drained a three-pointer from the top of the keycut the St. John's lead to 60-56 and Tritz sank two free throws to make it a one-possession game, 60-58.
Jensen finished the game with a team-high 15 points, while
Moore and Tritz tossed in 14 points. Jensen drained 4-of-9 three-pointers, including 3-of-8 in the second half, while she also led all players and tied her career-high with four steals in the game.
Creighton made all 12 of their free throw attempts in the game and shot 45.3 percent (24-53) from the field and 33.3 percent (7-21) from long range in the season-ending loss.
McKenith finished with a game-high 21 points, making 7-of-9 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws for the nationally-ranked Red Storm. Da’Shena Stevens added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, whiel Eugenia McPherson and Shenneika Smith each scored 10 points for St. John's.
The contest marked the 129th and final game of Moore's career, which ranks third in school history. Moore was the only senior on the 2011-12 team, as the Jays will return four starters and 10 letter winners next year.
NOTES: The Bluejays are now 2-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... CU went 0-2 against ranked teams this season, both Big East opponents - Notre Dame and St. John's ... Ally Jensen ended the season with 69 three-pointers made to rank eighth in single-season school history ... Sarah Nelson ended the season with 251 rebounds and 43 blocked shots to rank fifth and eighth, respectively, on the single-season CU charts ... Only Kelsey Woodard (130) and Megan Neuvirth (130) played in more career games than Moore ... Head coach Jim Flanery needs seven wins in 2012-13 to set the program record for career wins.