3:05 PM ET, March 11, 2007
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Drake had two things working in its favor Sunday. Home-court advantage, and the knowledge that it had nothing to lose.The Bulldogs used both -- along with a little bit of luck -- to become the second team this season to make the NCAA Tournament with a losing record.Kelsey Keizer hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in overtime and eighth-seeded Drake beat Creighton 65-64 on Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference title game.Drake matched Illinois State (2005) as the lowest seed to win the Valley tournament. The Bulldogs will make their first trip to the NCAA's since 2002, when they reached the round of 16."We were not picked to win, we were not picked to go as far as we did," Drake's Lauren Dybing said. "It brought all of our confidence up, because we had nothing to lose. We could just go out there and play our hardest and that's what happened."Lindsay Whorton and Monique Jones each had 17 for Drake (14-18), which became the fourth straight host school to win the Valley tournament. The Bulldogs will join Holy Cross (15-17), who won the Patriot League, as two of the unlikeliest teams in the Big Dance."I couldn't be more proud of this basketball team. They were just amazing today," Drake coach Amy Stephens said. "I guess it was only fitting that we'd play that type of basketball game, because it's been that type of season. They just never quit."Keizer was scoreless in regulation, but she had all five of Drake's points in OT -- pulling up from the wing and draining a 3 to put Drake up 65-64.Creighton (13-19) threw the ball away on its ensuing possession, but got the ball back with 25.7 left thanks to a tie up. Megan Neuvirth missed a layup that would have given Creighton the lead, and Chevelle Herring misfired at the buzzer to give Drake the win.Sara Cain scored a career-high 24 points to lead Creighton, which had a lot in common with Drake. The rebuilding Bluejays started the year 0-7, but beat second-seeded Illinois State and third-seeded Indiana State to reach the finals."Defensively in the second half they took a lot more things away from us. They made passes more difficult, and we really didn't get the opportunities in the second half that we did in the first half," Creighton coach Jim Flanery said.Drake had the ball with 26 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 60. But Creighton forced a steal, sending Ally Thrall on a scramble to the hoop.Drake put her on the line -- and got lucky. Thrall, an 87 percent free throw shooter, missed both free throws.Whorton missed a 3 at the buzzer to send the game into OT."We really tried to lose in as many ways as many ways as we possibly could in the last two minutes," Whorton said. "When we didn't, I think our team realized that we had a second chance."Drake, which trailed by as much as 42-31, tied the game on a true basketball rarity -- the five-point play. Whorton let loose a three as Creighton, which had seven teams fouls, picked up another one away from the ball. Whorton's 3 fell through, and Jones hit both free throws to make it 55-all."For the first 32 minutes of the game they outplayed us, they outhustled us, and we just had to work through it as a team," Stephens said. "We've been in so many close games. We've been in worse situations than being down 11.Whorton then nailed a 3 to give Drake the lead, and Jones followed with a putback to put the Bulldogs ahead by five with 2:02 left. Down 3 with 39.4 left, the Bluejays tied the game at 60 on a 3-point play from Herring.Creighton controlled the game for the first 30 minutes, but Drake used a 10-2 run to pull within three. Jones cut Creighton's lead to 49-48 on a three-point play with 7:17 left.Drake was the No. 1 team in the Valley's preseason poll, but injuries derailed their season. Forward Jill Martin -- the preseason Player of the Year -- injured her back five games into the season, and point guard Jordann Plummer broke her foot on Dec. 5.Forward Brandy Dahir, the Bulldogs' leading scorer in Martin's absence and a first-team All-Valley pick, missed the conference tournament after being diagnosed with mononucleosis last week. She'll miss the NCAA Tournament as well.
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||25-56 (.446)||25-62 (.403)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-11 (.455)||3-13 (.231)|
|FT Made-Attempted||10-18 (.556)||11-15 (.733)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|