Big East

2018 Big East Tournament: Xavier, Providence, Villanova, Butler Advance to Semifinals

No. 1 Xavier def. No. 8 St. John’s, 80-68

First Team All-Big East guard Trevon Bluiett led Xavier with a game-high 27 points.

The first half fed more into the momentum of the Red Storm, with less scoring and more grit. Xavier only held a four-point lead at the half.

But the second half burst open for Xavier in the second half. They hit seven of their nine threes in the second half including 58 percent shooting from the field. St. John’s shot below 40 percent from the field in both halves, but knocked down five of their six threes in the first half. In the second half, they shot 1-of-12 from behind the arc.

Other key factors for Xavier included winning the points off turnovers 22-2. They were +12 on the boards, +11 at the free throw line and only committed seven turnovers in the game.

No. 5 Providence def. No. 4 Creighton, 72-68

Providence outlasted Creighton in a game that had 11 ties and ten lead changes. Alpha Diallo led the Friars with 19 points and nine rebounds. First-Team All-Big East guard Marcus Foster finished with a team-high 19 points for Creighton.

Creighton jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first few minutes. Providence responded with a 15-10 run that would give them an 18-12 lead midway through the first half.

A three-pointer by Jacob Epperson would tie the game for Creighton at 26-26 with 2:21 left in the first half. Creighton pushed their lead to four with 1:03 left after an alley-oop to Epperson out of the pick-and-roll and a basket in transition for Mitch Ballock. Creighton would hold that 30-26 lead at halftime.

Providence and Creighton both came out and hit seven of their first 14 shots in the second half. Creighton would maintain the lead until Isaiah Jackson knocked down a three-pointer that gave Providence a 51-49 lead with 7:14 remaining.

Over the final five minutes, the Friars and the Bluejays would exchange leads several times, both teams putting together prompt responses when the other scored. The ninth tie of the game at 56-56 with two minutes left came after a pair of free throws by Khyri Thomas.

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Creighton players huddle during a timeout (Photo via Martin Soaries / Basketball Society)

Marcus Foster scored on a designed play by Creighton to get him to the basket. He gave the Bluejays a two-point lead with 1:33 left. Alpha Diallo hit one of two free throws down the stretch which kept Creighton in the lead by one.

Foster came back looking to score on the next possession for the Bluejays and got himself to the foul line where he made one of two, giving Creighton a two-point lead with 37.9 seconds left. Providence almost had a broken possession on their last play, but Alpha Diallo putback his own miss at the rim to tie up the game. Marcus Foster lost the ball on the final play of regulation and wasn’t able to get off a clean look.

Diallo went right to work in overtime, scoring the first points of extra play on an up-and-under move in the post. He drove and went to the free throw line for another two points on the next Providence possession.

Providence continued to get to the free throw line in overtime, with Isaiah Jackson hitting a pair to put the Friars up by four with under a minute left. Davion Mintz hit a midrange jumper to make it a two-point game and Kyron Cartwright responded with his own to put Providence back up by four. Mintz drove it back and was fouled. He hit both free throws to make it a two-point game again with 12 seconds left in overtime.

The Friars got the ball in and broke Creighton’s pressure. Alpha Diallo was fouled with 8.8 seconds left. He made one of two free throws, making it a three-point game. On Creighton’s final possession, they found a wide-open look for Mitch Ballock from three, but it was off the mark.

Providence advances to take on Xavier in the semifinal round on Friday.

No. 2 Villanova def. No. 7 Marquette, 94-70

Villanova crushed Marquette, shooting over 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from three. Mikal Bridges had a game-high 25 points end eight rebounds for Villanova. Jalen Brunson added 21 points.

Markus Howard scored a team-high 23 points for Marquette. Andrew Rowsey finished with 22 points.

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Jalen Brunson shoots a free throw for Villanova. The Big East Player of the Year had 21 points vs. Marquette in the quarterfinal round (Photo via Martin Soaries / Basketball Society)

From the start, both teams were playing to the strengths of their perimeter play. They each got off five three-point attempts in the first five minutes of the game. 12 of Marquette’s first 18 points came from three with two makes each from Second Team All-Big East guard Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. Villanova took a 28-23 lead with 4:43 left in the first half after Mikal Bridges converted on a four-point play.

Howard and Rowsey scored 30 of Marquette’s 34 first-half points on a combined 7-of-14 shooting from three. Mikal Bridges had 16 first-half points for Villanova as they had a 41-34 lead at the break.

After starting the second half with a couple of scores, Marquette turnovers gave way to Villanova pushing it back to a seven-point lead at the 16:52 mark. The Wildcats pushed their lead to double-digits and it mounted to a 15-point lead as Marquette went cold and after a Phil Booth three-pointer with 13:47 left.

Villanova’s lead mounted to 20 late in the second half as they hit 14 of their first 18 shots, including eight of their first 12 attempts from three. Marquette was at a loss defensively. They couldn’t contain Villanova in man to man or in their zone. The Wildcats were simply unstoppable in the second half, hitting 11 of their 17 three-pointers and shooting over 65 percent from the field. They won the second half 53-36 in what turned into a completely lopsided affair.

No. 6 Butler def. No. 3 Seton Hall, 75-74

The Butler Bulldogs upset Seton Hall in the most dramatic game of the Big East quarterfinal round. Butler was led by Kamar Baldwin who finished with a career-high 32 points.

Khadeen Carrington finished with a team-high 17 points for Seton Hall in the loss.

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Butler celebrates around Tyler Wideman after his game-winning tip-in (Photo via Martin Soaries / Basketball Society)

Seton Hall got off to a 10-4 start. They pushed the lead to 19-10 a little over midway through the first half and extended their lead to 14 at the 10:04 mark after Myles Powell knocked down a three-pointer in transition.

After cooling off some and committing some turnovers, Seton Hall fell on the wrong end of a 13-3 run by Butler over a four-minute stretch late in the first half. Kamar Baldwin gave the Bulldogs a needed spurt, knocking down a couple of threes and putting the Pirates on their heels in transition.

Seton Hall responded with more efficient shooting from the field. They shot 65 percent in the first half including 7-of-9 from three. The Pirates held a 43-35 lead at halftime.

Butler kept chipping at Seton Hall in the second half but the Pirates kept them at bay steadily. The Bulldogs cut it to a two-point game with 12 minutes left after a three-pointer from Sean McDermott.

The Pirates pushed their lead back up to seven with under six minutes left. Kamar Baldwin would respond with an and-one that cut the lead to four with under five minutes left. After another stop for Butler, Baldwin came back down again in transition for another and-one that cut the lead down to one with 4:08 left. After a bucket inside by Angel Delgado, Baldwin came right back with a three-pointer that tied the game 66-66 with under four minutes to play.

After a stop and a score by Henry Baddley in transition, Butler took a 70-68 lead with 1:02 left in regulation.

Seton Hall came out of the timeout and ran a set dribble hand-off play for Myles Powell, who knocked down a three-pointer to put the Pirates back up by one with 43.3 seconds left.

Kamar Baldwin came back the next possession with a tough leaning jumper to his right, putting Butler back up by one. The Bulldogs came up with a stop and Baldwin was fouled. He made one of two free throws.

On Seton Hall’s next possession, Khadeen Carrington drove and converted a go-ahead and-one to put the Pirates back up by one with 11.6 seconds left.

Baldwin drove the ball back for Butler and appeared to have a clean look at a layup, it fell off of the other side of the rim into the hands of Tyler Wideman, who made the game-winning putback with four seconds left.

Butler’s defense tightened up in the second half, and so did Seton Hall. The Pirates shot 28 percent from the field and 22 percent from three in the second half. They made more free throws (13) than field goals (8).

This is the first conference tournament win for Butler in five years since joining the Big East.

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