St. John's women beat Creighton for trip to NCAA tourney
CHICAGO (AP) Aaliyah Lewis had 14 points and eight rebounds and No. 4 seed St. John's won its first Big East tournament championship since 1988 in a 50-37 victory over seventh-seeded Creighton on Tuesday night, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
It was the first time since 2006 that the Big East tournament didn't feature the No. 1 seed after No. 18 DePaul fell to the Red Storm Monday. St. John's was the lowest seed to ever win the title.
Lewis made a layup to give St. John's a 41-33 lead and she drew a foul on Creighton's next possession, which led to Jade Walker's two free throws for a 10-point lead.
Aliyyah Handford, who was the tournament's most outstanding player, added 11 points for St. John's (23-9). She had 56 total points in three games.
Audrey Faber led Creighton (17-17) with 12 points and MC McGrory added 11.
Akina Wellere opened the fourth with a 3-pointer from the wing to give St. John's a 31-28 lead. It was the Red Storm's third 3 in nine tries. Lewis hit a layup on their next possession for a 33-30 advantage. Jade Walker made it 35-30 on a turnaround jumper and Danaejah Grant's layup gave them a seven-point lead.
Audrey Faber sank a 3-pointer to pull Creighton to 37-33 with 4:40 left, but Handford answered with a long jumper.
St. John's was just the second No. 4 seed to advance to the tournament final - joining Seton Hall in 1984.
Each team made 5 of 16 field goals (31.3 percent) in the first quarter as St. John's held an 11-10 lead.
Handford's steal and fast-break layup gave the Red Storm a 15-10 lead as Creighton was held scoreless for the first five-plus minutes of the second quarter. McGrory ended the drought at the 4:28 mark with two free throws, but the Bluejays missed their first eight field goals of the frame. McGrory hit two more free throws with 5.1 seconds left to pull Creighton to 21-20 at the break.
The teams combined for just five field goals in the third quarter, which ended in a 28-all tie.
Creighton: The Bluejays split the regular-season series, with each team winning on the road. Their win over St. John's started Creighton's four-game winning streak that ended Tuesday. ... Former Bluejay and current NBA player Doug McDermott was in attendance.
St. John's: The Red Storm played in their second Big East tournament title game in three years and their fifth in program history. ... St. John's is headed to its sixth NCAA Tournament in the last seven seasons and has 10 overall appearances.
St. John's: NCAA Tournament.