PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/1/2020 – Welcome to February. For the # 8 Villanova Wildcats their seven game win streak was broken as the Creighton Bluejays take home a 76 – 61 victory at the Wells Fargo Center. The defeat also cost the Wildcats an opportunity to move into a first place tie with Seton Hall in the Big East. Call it another learning experience for the Wildcats.
“We’re still a team that’s still learning and growing,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “They just played and all-around better basketball game than us. That’s the way it’s going to be in this league. I have to give them more credit than disappointment in us.”
The game had a similar feeling to the one played in Omaha in January. Villanova trailed for most of the game, then made a comeback, and overtook Creighton 64 – 59, which started the win streak. Today, the Wildcats trailed for most of the game, made a comeback, but the Bluejays withstood the charge and ended the run of consecutive victories.
“In Omaha they kind of Nova’d us,” said Creighton Coach Greg McDermott. “We led, but they kept grinding and grinding and we didn’t respond to that well. Today, to start the second half, they did what they do. We knew there was a run in them, but they only scored on five of their last twenty possessions. Our guys locked in.”
Creighton outshot Villanova in the first half making nearly half of their shots from inside and beyond the arc. Nova made 10 of 28 overall and 3 of 14 from distance. The visitors took a 35 – 23 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats began to shoot a bit better and kept the deficit in single digits. The run began and with ten and a half minutes left Nova crawled to within 51 – 48.
At the 8:02 mark with the Cats trailing by 56 – 50 Collin Gillespie went the the foul line with a chance to get to within four points. His shot did not fall. The Blue jays responded by scoring the next seven points to get a more comfortable lead at the 6 minute mark.
Justin Moore drained a three-pointer with just over four and a half minutes to play getting the Cats to within 6 again. Moore scored 18 points and set a career-mark with 4 made three’s in the game.
Creighton responded, again. A three-pointer by Mitch Ballock, who scored 15 points, was followed by three made layups by Damien Jefferson over the next three minutes to give the Bluejays the victory.
Collin Gillespie also scored 18 points. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl pulled down a game-high tying 10 rebounds.
Denzel Mahoney led Creighton (17 – 5, 6 – 3) with a career-high 21 points making 8 of 12 from the floor. Ty-Shon Alexander contributed 16 points, 14 scored in the first half, and pulled down 10 rebounds recording his third double-double of the season.
Lesson learned for the Cats.
“Everything with this team is a learning experience,” Gillespie said. “Today is a learning experience. Tomorrow, we come back and learn from it. It’s the same thing we would have done if we won this game.”
The schedule does not get any easier for Villanova (17 – 4, 7 – 2) who travels to Butler for a game on Wednesday, then return to the Wells Fargo Center to face league-leading Seton Hall. The Wildcats have to be prepared and ready.
“Every game in this league is going to be a battle,” Wright said. “If you don’t play your best, you’re going to get beat.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian