NEW YORK (AP) — Zach Hankins scored 22 points, including the go-ahead tip-in with 21 seconds left, and Kyle Castlin blocked Creighton’s last shot in the closing seconds to give Xavier a 63-61 victory Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Musketeers (18-14) will face top-seeded defending conference champion Villanova in the semifinals Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The Musketeers have reached the Big East semifinals all six seasons since they have been in the conference.
Xavier entered the tournament having won six of seven, hoping to extend its streak of NCAA Tournament appearances to six straight.
After Ty-Shon Alexander’s jumper tied it for fifth-seeded Creighton (18-14) at 61 with 51 seconds left, Hankins tapped in a third-chance shot for Xavier to take a two-point lead. That set up Creighton to take the last shot, and Castlin got a hand on Alexander’s 3 with four seconds left.
Paul Scruggs grabbed the loose ball for Xavier, pumped his fist and the Musketeers moved on.
Alexander led the Bluejays with 21 points and Martin Krampelj added 14.
The game turned into a grind in the second half as Xavier went nine minutes without a field goal. Creighton whittled a 10-point lead to three and then stalled, too.
Alexander gave the Bluejays their first lead of the second half, hitting a jumper while getting fouled and converting the 3-point play to make it 53-52 with 5:42 left.
Hankins, the graduate transfer who led Ferris State to a Division II national title last year, carried Xavier down the stretch scoring 12 points in the final 7:11.
The Musketeers trailed early by nine, but closed the first half on an 8-0 run, capped by an end-to-end drive by Quentin Goodin to beat the clock and put Xavier up 36-29 at intermission.
Creighton: The Bluejays had a five-game winning streak snap and probably saw its outside chance at an NCAA bid disappear.
Xavier: Leading scorer Naji Marshall (ankle) started after missing the regular-season finale. He finished with 11 points, just one in the second half, and eight rebounds.
Creighton: The Bluejays will likely land in the NIT.
Xavier: The Musketeers split two meetings with Villanova, with the home team winning each.