Drake upends No. 12 Creighton
by Mark Emmert, USA TODAY Sports
DES MOINES, Iowa — This was a man’s game, full of bumping and shoving and players hitting the floor.
And would you believe the advantage went to Drake?
Bulldogs 74, No. 12 Creighton 69, bruises too numerous to count.
When it was finally over Wednesday, after Drake forward Ben Simons swished two clinching free throws, hundreds in the crowd of 6,162 stormed the court and some of them went all the way into the winning locker room, celebrating a moment five years in the making. A moment when some very hungry boys became men.
“I don’t think there was a lot of people who took Drake tonight before the game. So obviously that was kind of fun to win it,” Bulldog coach Mark Phelps said after taking down a ranked team for the first time in his five seasons. “As a coach, you’re always happiest for your players. Those are the guys that invest, those are the guys who go through the injuries and the rehabs and the tough practices.”
Drake (9-10, 3-5 Missouri Valley Conference) had lost by 30 points at Creighton (17-3, 6-2) two weeks ago, and again by 30 at Northern Iowa on Sunday. The turnaround Wednesday couldn’t have been more stark, or more invigorating to the most raucous home crowd of the season.
Reserve point guard Richard Carter scored a team-high 20 points but also stuck his nose into the fracas to pull down seven rebounds, none bigger than a defensive board he wrestled from Creighton star Doug McDermott with 10 seconds left and the Bulldogs clinging to a 71-69 lead.
Many in the crowd – and certainly much of the media throng – had come to see McDermott, a leading contender to be national player of the year. But he wasn’t even the best player wearing No. 3 on this night. That was Carter, who also hit a couple of runners in the lane in the final 2 minutes as the Bulldogs refused to let a 16-point halftime lead fall by the wayside.
“I take a lot of pleasure in watching him develop right now. Because his heart’s right, he wants to … [For more on Drake Bulldogs upend No. 12 Creighton Bluejays, click here.]