St. John’s junior guard Nadirah McKenith scored on a coast-to-coast layup with 0.1 seconds left, lifting third-seeded St. John's to a dramatic 69-67 victory over Creighton in the first round of the tournament Sunday.
McKenith finished with a game-best 21 points, her third 20-point scoring effort of the season, as the Red Storm advanced to its third-straight NCAA Tournament Second Round.
“It was an exciting finish,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico, who is undefeated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 4-0. “Nadirah made a tremendous play down at the end to get us the win. It was a great basketball game, a game of runs.”
After Creighton’s Carli Tritz hit two free throws to tie it with 5.4 seconds left, McKenith took an inbounds pass from teammate Da’Shena Stevens, who finished with 12 points for St. John’s (23-9), and zoomed up the left sideline and into the lane before lofting a high-arcing shot that splashed in for the game-winner.
Fourteen seconds before, Stevens hit both free throws to give St. John’s a two-point lead over the Bluejays, 67-65.
With McKenith and Stevens, juniors Eugeneia McPherson and Shenneika Smith also reached double figures with 10 each.
Stevens, McKenith and Mary Nwachukwu, who made her first game appearance since fracturing her nose against West Virginia, led the Red Storm with six rebounds each.
For Creighton (20-13), Ally Jensen had a team-best 15 points while Tritz added 14. The Bluejays went a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line.
St. John’s hit 19-of-25 from the free throw line and shot 50 percent from the field for the second time this season.
The Red Storm next play sixth-seeded Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament’s Second Round on Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 after this edition of the paper went to press.
Sixth-seeded Oklahoma, the tournament’s host school, defeated No. 11 seed Michigan 88-67 following the St. John’s-Creighton match up.