Game two of a quadruple-header on Thursday saw the Creighton Blue Jays take on the Providence Friars. For the Friars, this game could go a long way in getting them off of the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament. They came up big when needed to and beat Creighton 72-68 in overtime.
Providence Beats Creighton in OT, 72-68
This was Providence’s fourth ever overtime game in the Big East Tournament, and its first since 1995. Creighton had not played an overtime conference tournament game since the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Championship game.
The teams remained close throughout. In a game that saw 10 lead changes, it was only fitting that it ended in overtime. Providence was down two with 14 seconds left until guard Alpha Diallo rebounded his own miss and put it back in to tie the game. The Blue Jays would go to Marcus Foster but he had the ball knocked away, and time ran out.
“Coach always tells us to drive the ball,” Foster said. “They took that away and I was looking for the step back three like I always do and just lost the ball.”
The Friars enjoyed a two-point lead for much of overtime until Kyron Cartwright gave them a little breathing room with a clutch turnaround jumper with 16 seconds left. After Providence cashed in on some free throws, Creighton drew up a perfect play to get a wide open three but it was just short. The Friars corralled the rebound with 0.5 seconds left.
Poor shooting early on, action picked up late
Creighton took a 30-26 lead into halftime but neither team could hit from the field consistently early on. Creighton shot 42.9 percent from the field while Providence shot just 31.3 percent. They were a combined 5-26 from three and 7-13 from the line.
Neither team had a double-digit scorer in the first half. The Friars were led by Jalen Lindsey with seven points. Three players for Creighton scored seven first-half points: Foster, Mitchell Ballock, and Jacob Epperson.
After trailing for most of the first half, Creighton used its defense to get back into the game and take a slight lead. If they were going to pull this game out, they needed to get Foster going.
That is exactly what happened. Foster scored 12 points in the second half to lead the Blue Jays. The senior averaged 20.3 points per game and was the offensive leader the entire season for Creighton. The only thing he failed to do was hit free throws, much like everyone else. Creighton shot 12-18 from the line while Providence was 19-31.
“Today, I was the free throw coach,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley said. “We missed a lot but today we made enough to win. I hope we can improve on that tomorrow.”
Providence will take on Xavier Thursday in the semi-finals. These teams met twice in the regular season, with Xavier winning both contests, the first by nine and the second by 10.
For the Friars to compete with the high-powered Musketeers, they will need the balance they got Wednesday against Creighton. The Friars had four players score double-digit points and Isaiah Jackson just missed that mark, finishing with nine. Cartwright is the leader of this team; if he has a good game, then there’s a chance for an upset. But if he is off, the Musketeers could run away with another one.
Xavier just needs to play its own style of basketball. The Musketeers have two seniors who can score at will in Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura. They are both dangerous from three and they use the threat of that to drive just as well.
Providence cannot afford to miss 12 free throws and shoot 5-22 from three-point range if it wants to upset the Musketeers.
Providence’s mindset going into the tournament
Playing in Madison Square Garden is a special feeling for teams. The Big East Tournament has become a great tradition and teams do not forget it.
“Playing in the Garden, we play here so much that is feels like a second home to us,” Providence’s Cartwright said. “Our fans are always loud here and they energize us like we’re at home.”
After the tournament, Providence will be losing three seniors who were big parts of their team. Cartwright, Lindsey, and Rodney Bullock were all a big part of what the Friars were able to do this season.
“This senior class is really special. It is the first time in school history that a recruiting class will go to four straight tournaments,” Cooley said. “They’re all graduating and this is a really special class to me.”
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