Xavier won a tight battle with Creighton, 63-61, to advance to the Big East Tournament semifinals against Villanova.
Creighton got off to a fast start, taking an 8-1 lead before Xavier made a field goal. Zach Hankins made a shot in the paint, and Creighton took a three that even Steph Curry doesn’t make a ton, which allowed Naji Marshall to bring Xavier within two, 8-6.
The Blue Jays were able to regain momentum and take a 16-10 lead with 12:34 left in the first half however.
Creighton would get up by as many as nine points, 19-10 and 22-13, but Xavier was able to start getting the ball inside and cut into the lead.
Xavier trailed by only four points, 24-20, with 6:58 left in the first half. Xavier was able to tie the game twice, 24-24 and 26-26, before taking a 28-26 on a Naji Marshall shot in the lane.
Creighton responded with a three to take the lead back, 29-28, with 4:03 left in the first half. Xavier retook the lead less than a minute later, when Marshall scored with 3:23 left in the half, 30-29.
Xavier got three layups to end the half on an 8-0 run and up 36-29.
The Musketeers were able to go up by 12, 45-33, but a 10-0 Creighton run brought them back within two, 45-43, with 11:24 to play.
Paul Scruggs made a free throw to get Xavier’s lead back up to three points, 46-43, with 11:18 left in the game. Neither team was able to score for more than three and a half minutes afterward, and the score remained 46-43 with 7:42 left in the game.
Quentin Goodin broke the drought by making two free throws, but a 7-2 spurt from Creighton tied the game at 50-50 with 6:23 left in the game.
Creighton was able to take the lead back, 53-52, with 5:41 to go in the game. A 6-0 run by Xavier over the next two minutes put them back in front, 58-53, with 3:12 left.
The Musketeers were able to go up 60-53, but Creighton responded with an 8-1 run to tie the game 61-61 with 51 seconds to go.
Hankins tipped in a shot with just under 28 seconds to go, and great defense by Xavier on the last possession led to a block by Kyle Castlin on Ty-Shon Alexander for Xavier to come away with a 63-61.
Hankins led the team in scoring and rebounding, with 22 points and nine boards, in addition to two blocks and a steal. Marshall was second on the team with 11 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Castlin finished with 10 points, three rebounds, a steal, and possibly the most important block of Xavier’s season. Scruggs ended with nine points, three rebounds, three assists and a block.
Goodin added in eight points, six rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Xavier plays Villanova in the Big East Tournament semifinals tomorrow night, March 15th, at 6:30 p.m.