for this game

Missouri State beats Creighton to reach CIT final

Mar 25, 2010 - 4:29 AM SPRINGFIELD, Mo.(AP) -- Adam Leonard and Nafis Ricks each scored 15 points, leading Missouri State to a 67-61 victory over Creighton on Wednesday night and a spot in the championship game of the tournament.

Missouri State will play the winner of Thursday night's game between Pacific and Appalachian State for the championship Tuesday in Springfield.

The Missouri Valley Conference teams split their two regular-season meetings, but Missouri State (23-12) never trailed in this one.

The Bluejays (18-16) tied it at 52 with 6:18 left on two free throws by Justin Carter, but Missouri State then switched to a zone defense and Creighton went more than four minutes without a field goal. Meanwhile, the Bears went on a 10-0 run to go up 62-52 with 2:25 left.

"We've been working on that zone for about 10 minutes a day just in case. It paid off for us tonight," Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Creighton was getting into a flow."

Missouri State had a 43-33 lead with 15:25 left before Kenny E. Lawson Jr. made three straight 3-pointers to trim it to 46-45 with 10:22 to go.

But the Bluejays managed only two field goals in the final 7:01.

"Defense has made the different for us in the tournament. We're not running many set offensive plays," Leonard said.

Creighton coach Dana Altman said the defensive switch definitely had an impact on his team.

"It affected us and we weren't getting any stops. They were getting stops with their defense. We had our opportunities. We had open looks. It didn't happen," he said. "We had our chances. We got the ballgame tied and we put ourselves in a position to win the game but it got away from us."

Lawson finished with 21 points for Creighton and Antione Young scored 17. Ethan Wragge added 12.

Missouri State's bench outscored Creighton's reserves 13-4. The Bears were forced to compensate for Kyle Weems and Jermaine Mallett, who were in foul trouble throughout.

Weems, Missouri State's leading scorer, did not have a point in the game.

"Everyone on the bench had to play tonight. It doesn't matter who is out there, they have to step up and play," Bears senior Justin Fuehrmeyer.

While the zone stopped Creighton offensively, Ricks took over and scored eight points for Missouri State in the last 5:57.

Will Creekmore finished with 13 points for the Bears and Mallett added 11.

"I thought we did well with the zone," Creekmore said.