Villanova came into tonight looking to win its 10th straight game to start conference play in their first game in the Pavilion in nearly a month. Villanova was able to pull out a victory, but only by the skin of their teeth in a 66-57 OT win.
The game started incredibly slowly, with only a total of five points being scored between the team in the first four minutes. Creighton was missing two starters in Marcus Zegarowski and TyShon Alexander, their leading scorer, which forced them to play a much slower and methodical style of play than they’re normally used to. On the changes, Creighton coach Greg McDermott said “I’m extremely proud...We played a lineup we’ve never played before and a style we’ve never played before due to injuries”, and despite the changes it was wildly effective for the Bluejays.
Pacing the Blue Jays in scoring was junior guard Davion Mintz, who stepped up in Alexander’s absence to score 19 points and grab 8 rebounds. Creighton held Villanova to shooting only 37% from the field and 29% from three, an especially impressive mark for a team ranked outside the top 150 in AdjDef on KenPom. Creighton nearly won the game in regulation, but Kaleb Joseph, who started instead of Alexander, missed two free throws late and the game winning floater as time expired. The team looked rattled in overtime, while Villanova was able to out-hustle the Blue Jays and make the crunch-time plays Creighton was unable to.
However, Villanova showed that they were more than up for the challenge. Freshman Saddiq Bey paced the team in scoring with 17 points, making three three-pointers and grabbing three steals, sparking the Wildcats defense. The team was also able to have a more balanced attack than usual, with Bey and Collin Gillespie scoring in double digits in addition to the usual suspects of Booth and Paschall. Off the bench, sophomore Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree had seven points and seven rebounds, including a putback dunk after a missed Gillespie free throw in overtime. Booth struggled with his shot, but was able to regain his composure late after two early air-balls, hitting a crucial three pointer in overtime to stretch the Wildcats’ lead to six.
Villanova now moves to 19-4, and a sterling 10-0 in conference play. Their next game is their first of the season against top-ten ranked Marquette, a game in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is at 2:30 PM in the Fiserv Center and it will be broadcast on FOX.