ST. LOUIS -- There was no second-guessing for Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall about his team’s failed bid to force overtime.
He was proud of the way the Shockers made a game of it.
Jahenns Manigat scored a season-best 16 points and hit a layup with 11.5 seconds to go that gave top-seeded Creighton just enough to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion with a 68-65 win over Wichita State on Sunday.
"They are beyond a reasonable doubt one of the toughest groups that I’ve ever dealt with and I’ve been coaching since 1985," Marshall said after his team’s comeback effort fell just short. "It’s a long time and no matter what they’ve faced all year, they just continue to try to find a way to win.
"That’s their greatest attribute, their perseverance."
The Shockers (26-8), down 13 with just over five minutes to go, are confident they’ll get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They were the second seed in the tournament.
"It’s been a lifetime dream for me," said senior transfer Malcolm Armstead after scoring a career-best 28 points with nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. "So just trying to take it one day at a time now to get better and get the team better."
Although Creighton locked up an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Wichita State appears to be in good shape to get an at-large berth. The Shockers entered the day with an RPI
Reserve Ethan Wragge hit five 3-pointers for 15 points to help the Bluejays (27-7) overcome an off day from star Doug McDermott, who missed six of his first seven shots Sunday and was held to 14 points -- 10 below his average.
"I didn’t have my best game, but my teammates stepped up and it feels great," McDermott said. "It couldn’t get much better than this."
Marshall said he decided against calling a timeout after going over all the possibilities earlier with players.
"I generally like to let the players play," Marshall said. "Malcolm had a few stare-down 3s in that situation, so I felt good."
McDermott was still honored as the tournament MVP. He had scored 41 points eight days earlier in Creighton’s regular-season title clinching victory over the Shockers.
Wichita State shot just 34 percent and has dropped three of five. Cleanthony Early, who averages 14 points off the bench, was held to two points.
The Shockers shaved the deficit to a point with a 10-0 run capped by Armstead’s fourth 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining. Manigat’s layup put the Bluejays back up by three.
Creighton was 11 for 24 from 3-point range without its best long-range threat making his shots. McDermott, now tied with Wragge for the team lead with 74 this season, was 0 for 3.
The Bluejays have won 12 MVC tournament championships, seven more than any other school, and won in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-03. Wichita State has not won the title since 1987. Armstead scored 15 points in the semifinals against Illinois State after totaling 15 points his previous three games.
Creighton missed its first eight shots and Wichita State its first nine, and the teams were a combined 2 for 25 before settling down. McDermott picked up two fouls in the first half that limited him to 13 minutes.