NEW YORK, N.Y. — A spirited second half comeback for the second straight day helped the Creighton men’s basketball team advance to the finals of the 2017 BIG EAST Championship, presented by Jeep, on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Bluejays trailed 37-31 at the half before rallying to top Xavier, 75-72, to improve to 25-8 on the season, as Marcus Foster‘s three-pointer with 6.6 seconds left provided the winning points.
With the win, sixth-seeded Creighton advances to play second-ranked and top-seeded Villanova, which defeated Seton Hall 55-53 in the day’s first semifinal.Xavier dropped to 21-13 with the setback.
Creighton led 5-2 out of the gates before an 8-0 run fueled by J.P Macura gave Xavier the lead for the rest of the half. Macura and All-BIG EAST guard Trevon Bluiett combined for 15 straight Musketeer points at one juncture as Xavier went ahead 18-9. The Musketeers pounded CU on the glass to the tune of 23-12 in the opening half, turning seven offensive rebounds into 10 second-chance points.
Foster led Creighton with 11 points at the break, becoming the 11th different player in Creighton history to amass 600 or more points in a season. Macura had nine points at the break to lead Xavier.
Xavier took a 39-31 lead on the opening trip of the second half before Creighton scored on six straight trips to take a 46-45 lead. The Bluejays would build a lead of 53-48 in the first eight minutes of the second half, opening the stanza on a 22-11 flurry reminiscent of a 10-0 run to open the second half in Thursday’s win over Providence.
Creighton led 60-54 with 7:51 left before Macura and Bluiett scored all the points in an 8-2 run to tie it. The Bluejays retook the lead at 64-62 on a Patton lay-in, only to have Macura answer with his sixth trey of the evening to put the Musketeers up one with 4:14 to play. CU called a timeout and would up with a three-pointer by Tyler Clement, who drilled a three-pointer from the left corner to return the lead to CU.
Xavier tied it on two foul shots by Malcolm Bernard with 3:06 left, but Creighton’s Marcus Foster drained a three-pointer at the 2:06 mark to give the Bluejays the lead back. Bluiett got a hoop, but Patton matched it on the CU end with a tip-in and CU led by three with a minute to go. Xavier missed the front-end of a bonus, and then committed five straight fouls to get CU into the bonus, where CU missed it, but Foster hit a game-winning trey with 6.6 left after Bluiett tied it with 15.6 remaining.