NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Creighton men’s basketball team was eliminated from the BIG EAST Tournament with a 63-61 quarterfinal loss to Xavier on Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Creighton had its league-high five-game win streak snapped, falling to 18-14, while Xavier improved to 18-14 with its sixth win in the last seven games.
Sophomores Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock helped stake Creighton to an early 22-13 lead, combining for 20 of CU’s first 22 points in the opening 10 minutes. Xavier responded with 11 of the next 13 points, including eight points from Zach Hankins, to knot the score at 24-all, and the Musketeers took their first lead at 28-26 on a lay-up by Naji Marshall. The Musketeers closed the first half on an 8-0 run over the final four minutes extending their lead to 36-29 on a driving lay-up by Quentin Goodin in the final seconds of the first half.
Xavier outscored CU 22-8 in the paint, and Marshall and Hankins each scored 10 points in the opening 20 minutes. Creighton was led by 13 points at the break by Alexander, but he was held scoreless in the final 10:28 of the period.
After falling behind 45-33 with 16:11 to play, Creighton embarked on a 10-0 run that included baskets by Krampelj, Joseph and Mintz and bring CU within 45-43 with 11:25 remaining. The Musketeers went more than eight minutes without a field goal, but Creighton missed four potential game-tying three-point shots during that stretch and still trailed 46-43 with 7:42 remaining. Marcus Zegarowski scored five points to tie the game at 50-all with 6:23 to go.
Creighton took its first lead since 29-28 on a three-point play by Alexander with 5:42 to go to make it 53-52, only to see Hankins go in for a dunk on the next possession to start a 8-0 run that put Xavier ahead 60-53 with 2:20 remaining. An Alexander trey with 1:57 to go snapped the CU scoring drought and opened an 8-1 flurry that saw a Ballock trey and Alexander pull-up jumper knot the score at 61-all with 44.9 left.
Xavier called a timeout and scored the eventual game-winning points on a putback from Hankins with 26.8 left.
CU went without a timeout and worked the ball to Alexander, who had his potential game-winning trey blocked in the final seconds.by Kyle Castlin.
Hankins, who totaled 20 points in two regular-season meetings against Creighton, led the Musketeers with 18 points.
Creighton was paced by 21 points from Alexander and 14 by Krampelj.