OMAHA, Neb. - Not even a four-point lead in the final minute of regulation was enough to get St. Joe's over the hump.
Creighton outscored the Hawks by 7-3 to force overtime, then scored the first six points of the extra session and would not let go in a 90-84 victory yesterday before 15,332 at Qwest Center Omaha.
"It's just sad to go in the locker room and everybody has their heads down," St. Joe's guard Tasheed Carr said. "It's small plays. Six or seven small plays over four games and we're 4-4 instead of 7-1 or 8-0."
Add Creighton to a list of close losses that includes Syracuse, Gonzaga and Holy Cross.
"The way we've scheduled is going to have benefit here," Hawks coach Phil Martelli said. "But you've got to start getting over the hump and have these players rewarded for the efforts we've put into situational basketball."
Garrett Williamson drove for a three-point play that made it 67-63 with 1 minute, 9 seconds to play in the second half, but Creighton's Nick Bahe hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to one.
Carr's driving basket, part of a 23-point, nine-assist game, pushed the lead back to three points, but twice Creighton's Dane Watts quickly got position in the low post and drew fouls.
He made all four free throws, the last with 14 seconds left in regulation. In between, Pat Calathes missed the second of two free throws with 21 seconds to go, allowing the Bluejays (6-1) to tie the game.
"End-game situations, we've practiced them repeatedly," Martelli said. "You've got to step up and make a free throw, and then you've got to make a stand. We weren't able to do that."
Watts, a 6-foot-8 senior, scored a career-high 29 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Bluejays, who were coming off a 79-66 loss at Xavier.
"Two stops and we win the game," Carr said. "We put the guy on the line twice in a row. They did a great job making free throws, but the bottom line is, if we make some stops, we come out with a victory."
Calathes, Rob Ferguson and Darrin Govens all scored 14 for St. Joe's, with all of Govens' points coming in the first half.
"They hit some big shots, we hit some big shots, and I thought both teams played very hard," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "We were fortunate to get it to overtime, and we found a way to win that one. It's a big win for us."
Ahmad Nivins, the Hawks' No. 2 scorer, fouled out late in regulation, just after scoring his first two points of the game on free throws. Nivins, who had been averaging 14.4 points, did not attempt a field goal.
"We have to get mentally stronger, because we're going to be in a lot of these games," Martelli said. "This is a high-level game against a good opponent on the road. You've got to make your own good things happen, and we didn't do enough."