MEN’S BASKETBALL: Late Run Lifts Creighton Past Villanova
OMAHA–(CU Athletics Feb. 4)–A 6-0 run in the final 30 seconds lifted the Creighton men’s basketball team to a 66-61 win over Villanova on Saturday evening before the 12th-largest home crowd (18,509) in program history. The victory, Creighton’s sixth in a row, came in the first meeting between the schools since Villanova won the 2022 BIG EAST Tournament final over the Bluejays at Madison Square Garden last March.
Creighton (15-8, 9-3 BIG EAST) moved into a tie for third-place in the league standings with idle Providence, while defending league champ Villanova dropped to 10-13 and is 4-8 in BIG EAST play. Creighton’s seven wins over Villanova since 2013 are tied with Marquette for the most of any Wildcat opponent in those 10 seasons, and improved the Bluejays to 5-5 all-time against Nova in Omaha.
Trey Alexander led all players with 27 points, including a pair of go-ahead free throws with 26.2 seconds left after Villanova quieted the crowd with 34.3 seconds left on a go-ahead three-pointer by Eric Dixon that gave Nova a 61-60 lead. Alexander then stole the ball from Caleb Daniels on the ensuing possession and made a pair of free throws with 12.1 seconds to play to give CU a 64-61 edge. Dixon would miss a three-pointer that could have tied it, and Bluejay senior Baylor Scheierman was fouled and made two free throws with 1.4 ticks left to ice the victory.
Creighton controlled the first half, pulling away from a 14-14 deadlock with eight points to force a Villanova timeout. The Bluejay lead remained eight at halftime (35-27), with Ryan Kalkbrenner and Alexander each scoring a dozen.
The Wildcats would trail by as much as 10 points (46-36) in the second half, only to use a 15-3 run to take its first lead (51-49 with 9:43 left) since it was 12-10. The teams would trade the lead five times down the stretch, setting up the late-game heroics by the hosts.
Creighton shot 37.7 percent for the game and 29.2 percent from deep in addition to 82.6 percent marksmanship at the line (19-23). Kalkbrenner had 16 points, and three blocked shots while playing the final 6:47 with four fouls. Kalkbrenner took a key charge on Cam Whitmore — his first of the season — with 3:20 left and CU leading 58-56. The Jays won the rebound battle 35-32.
Dixon led Villanova with 20 points., Daniels had 12 and Justin Moore added a season-high 13 points in his third game back from an Achilles injury suffered last season in an Elite Eight victory. The Wildcats shot 38.8 percent for the game, including 28 percent from downtown, and made 16-of-20 free throws (80 percent).
Both teams finished with 13 points off turnovers and 22 points in the paint.
Creighton returns to action on Wednesday with a 5:30 p.m. Central tip that will air on FS1.