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St. John's women edge Creighton, 69-67

St. John's guard Nadirah McKenith (5) grabs a

St. John's guard Nadirah McKenith (5) grabs a rebound in front of teammate Da'Shena Stevens, right, and Creighton's Sarah Nelson (42) and Ally Jensen (12) in the second half of an NCAA tournament first-round women's college basketball game. (March 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

NORMAN, Okla. -- Nadirah McKenith is known for trying any type of shot at any time in the game. St. John's 5-7 guard has the confidence that they will all go in, even when they don't.

McKenith knew that someday one of her high-degree-of-difficulty shots would come in handy. That day came Sunday during the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament at Lloyd Noble Center.

McKenith drove the length of the court and flipped up a running, acrobatic shot with one-tenth of a second left that gave No. 3 seed St. John's a 69-67 win over No. 14 seed Creighton.

"I thought we had to make some tremendous plays down the end when things really didn't go our way," coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "We really stepped up. We were able to make big plays when we had to."

McKenith had 21 points and shot 7-for-9 for the Red Storm (23-9), offsetting her eight turnovers against a tough defense.

St. John's, which will face Oklahoma in the second round, led 63-61 with 2:24 left when Creighton's Sarah Nelson missed a jumper. The BlueJays grabbed the rebound but were called for a foul. McKenith made a layup, but the BlueJays answered when Carli Tritz found DaNae Moore under the basket for an easy shot. The Red Storm's lead was back down to two with a minute left.

When McKenith got trapped on the sideline as she brought the ball upcourt, Arico called for a timeout, but at the same time, the officials called a flagrant foul on McKenith for throwing an elbow. Moore hit the two free throws to tie it at 65.

After St. John's Da'Shena Stevens and Creighton's Tritz each made two free throws, it was 67-67 with 5.4 seconds left. That proved to be more than enough for McKenith. She streaked down the left sideline, got into the lane and flipped a high floater over a couple of defenders with time almost expired. It was all net.

"I was very excited for [Stevens],'' McKenith said. "She made two clutch free throws to keep us in the game. I felt I needed to make that shot for the team because I felt like I didn't have a very good game. I was praying it was going in."

Creighton coach Jim Flanery said his team was supposed to make McKenith go laterally, but she ended up being too quick for the BlueJays to stop the ball. "McKenith made several plays at the end,'' Flanery said, "but that was a great one."

Stevens had 12 points and Eugeneia McPherson and Shenneika Smith chipped in with 10 each. Ally Jensen led Creighton with 15 points.

Now the Red Storm will face the sixth-seeded Sooners here at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. If it comes down to McKenith again, she will be ready with the same shot if needed.

"I joke around and take that shot every day,'' she said. "It just so happened to go in. Right now, it's the biggest shot of my life. More to come."

Oklahoma 88, Michigan 67: Aaryn Ellenberg had 28 points to lead the Sooners to an easy win on their home court.

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