OMAHA, Neb. - Tasheed Carr and his Saint Joseph's teammates left the Omaha Qwest Center yesterday wondering what they must do to get over the hump.
The Hawks couldn't hold a four-point lead against Creighton in the final 1 minute, 9 seconds of regulation and droped a 90-84 overtime decision to the Bluejays. The loss adds to the frustration of having potential big-game victories over Syracuse and Gonzaga slip away in the late going.
"We've played three really good teams and had them beat, and then we lose," Carr said. "We don't believe in moral victories. Anything less than a win is unacceptable. It's frustrating knowing that down the stretch we're beating a good team and we come up short."
Garrett Williamson capped a 9-2 Saint Joseph's run with two free throws to put the Hawks (4-4) ahead 67-63 with 1:09 remaining. Nick Bahe countered with a three-point basket that pulled Creighton (6-1) within a point with 56.9 seconds to play, and the teams traded baskets before Pat Calathes made one of two free-throw attempts for a 70-68 lead with 21.3 seconds left.
Creighton hustled upcourt and Dane Watts, who led the Bluejays with a career-high 29 points, was fouled with 14.2 seconds remaining. Watts made both attempts to force a 70-70 tie, as Calathes' hurried jumper at the buzzer missed.
"Two stops and we win the game," said Carr, who led the Hawks with a career-high 23 points before fouling out in overtime. "The bottom line is we make some stops, we come out with a victory."
Creighton outscored the Hawks 9-2 to start the overtime, then made 11 of 14 free throws (two of the misses by Watts) to finish off its sixth win in seven games. The Bluejays also outscored the Hawks 13-5 at the start of the game and 8-2 at the beginning of the second half.
"That put us on our heels," St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "The rest of the time, I thought we got into a battle that, in stretches, we won. We had a nice beat to our game but we really let it get away from us in those three opening segments of the game."
The Hawks recovered from Creighton's early second-half flurry to take a 55-50 lead with 8:15 to play. Creighton then went on an 11-3 run before another strong counter by the Hawks put them ahead by four with those 69 seconds left in regulation.
"They hit some big shots, we hit some big shots and I thought both teams played very hard," Creighton coach Dana Altman said. "They took advantage of our mistakes, and we were fortunate to get it to overtime and find a way to win that one. It's a big win for us."
In addition to Watts' career high, Pierce Hibma had another career-best with 17 points. Bahe, the Bluejays' third senior, scored 14 points, one shy of his career high.
Calathes, Rob Ferguson and Darrin Govens each scored 14 points to support Carr. Saint Joe's center Ahmad Nivins, averaging 14.4 points, finished with two and did not attempt a field goal before fouling out with 1:02 left in regulation.
"I didn't know he didn't shoot the ball one time," Carr said. "We've got to do a better job of collectively getting him the ball, and he's got to do a better job of getting the ball in good spaces on the court. That's amazing he didn't shoot the ball. Dang." *