Zach Hankins grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 27.8 seconds remaining to lift fourth-seeded Xavier past fifth-seeded Creighton 63-61 in the quarterfinal round of the Big East tournament Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Hankins scored 22 points, Naji Marshall added 11 and Kyle Castlin had 10 for the Musketeers (18-14), who will face top-seeded Villanova in the semifinals on Friday.
Castlin blocked a potential game-winning shot by Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander as time expired.
Alexander paced the Bluejays with 21 points while Martin Krampelj added 14 and Mitch Ballock had 10.
Creighton (18-14) had won five in a row.
Alexander started hot in scoring the first five points of the game in the opening three minutes. Alexander would hit his first four shots for 10 points as the Bluejays pulled ahead 15-10.
Marshall kept Xavier close with six early points.
Hankins stayed aggressive in the paint and got the Musketeers within 22-15 with nine minutes left in the first half. Another Hankins layup cut the lead to 24-20 with 7:36 left in the first half.
Hankins scored two more baskets and reached double figures for the eighth straight game as he tied the game at 24 with 6:19 left in the half.
But Xavier scored the final eight points of the half to lead 36-29 at the break, with Quentin Goodin driving to the basket and scoring at the buzzer for the seven-point lead.
Alexander paced the Bluejays with 13, but they shot just 11 of 31. In the half.
Xavier built a double-digit lead early in the second half then went cold, missing eight straight shots during one stretch. As a result, Creighton climbed within 46-43 with 11:18 left.
But with eight minutes left to play, the Musketeers made four consecutive shots after the eight straight misses to go back ahead 56-53 with 4:23 left — despite Creighton actually tying it up at 50-50 during the run.
Hankins continued his second-half dominance and knocked down a difficult jump hook on the baseline for a 58-53 advantage with 3:13 remaining.
Creighton battled back and tied the game at 61 when Alexander hit a short jumper with 51 seconds to go, setting Hankins up for his winning basket.
—Field Level Media