Sixth-seeded Creighton opened the second half on a 17-4 run and never looked back in a 70-58 victory on Friday night in quarterfinal round action of the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament, presented by Jeep.
The win improves Creighton to 24-8 on the year, while Providence is now 20-12. With the win, Creighton advances to Friday’s 8 p.m. Central semifinal against seventh-seeded Xavier. The Musketeers eliminated second-seeded Butler by a 62-57 score earlier on Thursday.
Both teams battled through foul trouble in the first half. Creighton’s starting point guard Davion Mintz picked up two fouls in the first 2:30 and played just six minutes in the first half. CU’s leading scorer, Marcus Foster, had nine of CU’s first 17 points, only to be relegated to a spectator’s role after two fouls in a 46-second span and be forced to sit the rest of the half.
PC led 30-27 at the break, led by six points from Jalen Lindsey. CU was led by nine points by Foster and eight from Khyri Thomas at the break. CU shot 37.9 percent in the first 20 minutes despite 1-of-11 long-range marksmanship. Creighton led the rebound battle 22-18.
Creighton opened the second half on a 7-0 run, taking its largest lead to that point at 35-30. Free throws from Mintz and Thomas preceded a Cole Huff trey and a Thomas hoop to force a timeout. Justin Patton then threw down a dunk after the break as CU went up by seven.
Mintz continued to push the pace, extending the run to 17-4 to open the half as Creighton went up 44-34 with 11:41 to play. The Bluejays would not see their lead dip below four (44-40) the rest of the evening.
Thomas led Creighton with 19 points, while Foster had 15 and Huff contributed 10 points. Foster’s 15 points give him 589 on the year, breaking Doug McDermott’s mark (581) for points by a newcomer. The Bluejays shot 42.6 percent from the floor, including 4-of-20 from three-point range, and were also 20-of-33 at the line. Creighton picked up 10 steals, including three each by Mintz and Thomas.
Kyron Cartwright, who buried a three-pointer in the final seconds of Providence’s win in Omaha on Feb. 22nd, led the Friars with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists before fouling out in the final minute. Emmitt Holt added 14 points and Alpha Diallo scored 10 points. The Friars were 20-of-50 from the field and 4-of-21 from long-range, sinking 14-of-26 foul shots. PC won the rebound battle 39-38, but committed 22 turnovers.
The quarterfinal culminated a wild day at the World’s Most Famous Arena that saw the No. 5 (Marquette), No. 6 (Creighton) and No. 7 (Xavier) seeds advance, in addition to No. 1 seed Villanova.