VILLANOVA, PA. 2/6/2019 – The 14th ranked Villanova Wildcats had to find a way to keep their Big East winning streak alive. It took overtime and a career-night by freshman forward Saddiq Bey as the Wildcats improve to 10 – 0 in conference with a 66 – 59 win over the Creighton Blue Jays in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
Villanova is on an 11-game winning streak, 10 – 0 in the Big East for the first time in the history of the program, and tied the fourth best start in conference history even with the 1998-99 Connecticut Huskies who finished 16 – 2. But it was a grind to get there. Credit Creighton.
“It was one of those games where they had a great game plan and we were just trying to survive,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “In those games you have to find a way and I’m proud of our guys. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll learn from that and I’d rather learn from a win.”
Bey had a career-night when his team needed it finishing with 17 points, 11 of which came after halftime. He shot 6 of 12 from the floor and was 3 of 8 from beyond the arc. The forward from Fargo, MD set a new-best in steals with 3 and played over 36 minutes, his most. The play with the most impact came with 7 seconds left in regulation when Bey fouled Blue Jays guard Kaleb Joseph who was streaking to a potential game-winning basket. Since the Wildcats had only 5 team fouls, it stopped Creighton who, then, had to inbound the ball. No basket and on to overtime.
“Every possession we had my teammates told me to play how I play and I fed off their energy,” said Bey who credited the team for his performance.
Over the last 7 and a half minutes of the second half the largest lead was 3 points and that was held by the Blue Jays at 48 – 45 on a three-pointer by Davion Mintz, who scored a game-high 19 points. The next four points were scored by Phil Booth, who had 14, to give Nova a one-point lead with just over a minute left. After a timeout Creighton got the ball to Joseph who was fouled on a controversial call, and went to the line for three free throws. He made one to tie the game at 49.
In the overtime the Villanova defense stopped Creighton and a 7 – 0 run put the game out of reach.
“You have to stay locked in and this took forty-five minutes to get the win,” Booth said.
Creighton was short handed due to injury and had to be different. Leading scorer Ty-Shon Alexander was not able to play.
“We played a lineup we never played before, we played a style we never played before,” said Creighton Coach Greg McDermott. “Because of injuries, we’re in a tough spot right now. They way we played gave us the best chance to win. Our guys fought. We missed a couple of free throws that could have won the game.”
Eric Paschall added 15 points for Nova. Collin Gillespie had 13 making 4 of 9 from distance. Booth led the team in rebounds with 8, tying his career-high.
Martin Krampelj recorded his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Mitch Ballock added 11 points.
The Blue Jays fall to 13 – 10, 4 – 6 in the Big East.
Villanova improves to 19 – 4 overall. The Wildcats will face their biggest test when they go to Milwaukee to face the 10th ranked Golden Eagles of Marquette on Saturday who are in second place in conference with an 8 – 2 record. The Cats got by this one to set up that one.
“On a night when you are not at your best, you have to find a way, that’s a good team,” Wright said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian