NCAA Basketball

No. 24 Creighton beats Villanova 87-74 in Big East quarters

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 21 points, Ryan Nembhard added 17 and No. 24 Creighton defeated Villanova 87-74 Thursday night at the Big East Tournament in a rematch of last season's championship game.

The third-seeded Bluejays (21-11) advanced to the semifinals Friday night at Madison Square Garden to face second-seeded and 15th-ranked Xavier. The top four seeds swept the quarterfinals.

Nembhard made three of Creighton's 12 3-pointers, including one from the corner off an offensive rebound that put the Bluejays up 18 with 12:54 left in the second half.

Eric Dixon's 3 for sixth-seeded Villanova (17-16) cut lead to 65-56 with 4:43 left and perked up the Villanova fans at the Garden after a Creighton had dominated the second half.

But Arthur Kaluma responded with a 3 after the Bluejays broke Nova's press to bump the lead back to 12 on the next possession. Kaluma finished with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting

Kalkbrenner competed a three-point play with 3:26 left to make it 73-61 and Creighton cruised from there.

The Wildcats came in having won seven of nine to salvage their first season post-coach Jay Wright.

In need of a championship run in New York to extend their NCAA Tournament streak to 10 appearances, the Wildcats couldn't match up with the 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner on the defensive end (9 for 12 from the field) and had a hard time finishing at the rim with him lurking in the paint.

Dixon scored 20 points to lead the Wildcats.

The Bluejays took a 32-23 lead at half behind Kalbrenner's 10 points and a personal nine-point run from Trey Alexander, who made three consecutive 3s.

Creighton has played in the last two Big East finals and four overall since joining the conference in 2014 - but the Bluejays have yet to win a title.

Villanova has been the beast of the new Big East, going 18-4 and winning five tournament titles since the conference dropped football and reconfigured.

Against Creighton, Villanova was playing as the lower seed in a Big East Tournament game for the first time since 2013 against Louisville.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: Kyle Neptune's first season as coach was derailed in part by injuries and absences, along with a challenging early-season schedule. Fully loaded, the Wildcats found a groove late in the season, but they still lacked length and a natural point guard and Creighton exposed those deficiencies.

Creighton: Baylor Scheierman scored seven points in 45 seconds early in the second half that opened up the lead to 16 and Villanova never really recovered.

Scheierman hit a 3 from up top and was fouled by Dixon for what turned out to be a four-point play, and then made another 3 in transition to make it 44-28 with 16:34 left.

Scheierman, the South Dakota State transfer, finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

UP NEXT

Villanova: The Wildcats, who were serenaded with chants of “NIT!” in the final seconds by the Bluejays fans, are in danger of missing the postseason completely for the first time since 2012.

Creighton: The Bluejays split two meetings with Xavier in January.

---

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Updated March 10, 2023

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2023 by STATS PERFORM.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS PERFORM is strictly prohibited.