OMAHA, Neb. — The Creighton men’s basketball team went cold down the stretch, hitting just two field goals over the final seven minutes, as the Bluejays fell to No. 16 Villanova 64-59 on Tuesday, Jan. 7th.
The loss dropped Creighton to 12-3 overall and 1-2 in BIG EAST play, as Creighton had its 15-game home winning streak snapped. Defending BIG EAST champ Villanova moved to 11-3 on the season and 2-1 in conference play.
Creighton’s defense dominated the opening half as the Bluejays held Villanova to just 16 points in the opening 17 minutes. Villanova scored the first point of the game, but Creighton responded with an 8-0 burst to build an early 8-1 edge. Four different Bluejays scored during the run, including a trey from junior Denzel Mahoney. The Wildcats cut Creighton’s lead to 11-8, but another Bluejay surge followed. This time Creighton went on a 13-2 run featuring six scorers to push out to a 24-10 lead with 6:29 left before the break.
Moments later with the Bluejays up 29-16, Villanova answered with a 9-2 run pull within 31-25. The Bluejays, however, grabbed the final bucket on a driving shot from Mahoney to take a 33-25 lead into halftime.
Villanova opened the second half with six straight points to make it a one possession game at 33-31, but Creighton answered the challenge by going inside to Christian Bishop. The Bluejay sophomore keyed a Creighton 8-2 burst with four straight points to help the Bluejays reclaim an eight-point advantage at 41-33. Two more free throws from Bishop later in the half pushed the Bluejay edge back to double figures at 47-37.
After leading 52-44 with 8:21 left on the clock, Creighton saw the Wildcats take their first lead since 1-0 with an 11-2 run over the next five minutes, capped by the first trey of the second half by either team from Villanova’s Collin Gillespie to put the Wildcats up 55-54. Bluejay junior Mitch Ballock answered from long range on the next possession to reclaim the lead, but Villanova got the final three-pointer of the game by Saddiq Bey to go back on top 58-57 with 2:47 remaining.
Down the stretch the Wildcats held Creighton to just one field goal in the final 3:18 to claim the victory.
Bishop led the Bluejays 16 points as well as nine rebounds in the game, the only Creighton player to reach double figures. Marcus Zegarowski led all players with six assists.
Villanova got a game-high 24 points from Gillespie, 11 from Bay and 10 from Jermaine Samuels. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl topped all players with 14 rebounds. The Wildcats won despite shooting 6-of-33 from three-point range, tying a season-low with five turnovers.
The Bluejays return to action on Saturday, Jan. 11 as Creighton travels to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on Xavier at 1:00 pm on FOX.