Providence edges Creighton for Big East quarterfinal win

New York — Kyron Cartwright walked down the court in the final 14 seconds of Thursday’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal game at Madison Square Garden, stirring the pot like the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. The senior guard did a 360-degree spin, fall away jumper from the edge of the free throw line.

Cartwright’s final field goal in the game gave No. 5 seed Providence the edge over No. 4 seed Creighton with a 72-68 overtime victory. He scored 13 points while teammate Alpha Diallo had 19 points and five rebounds.

“That’s one of my moves that I go to when I need it,” Cartwright said. “I tried doing it in the first half, but it was blocked, but fortunately that time I was able to get it off with enough space to make the shot.”

The Friars will play No. 1 seed Xavier in the tournament semifinals. The Friars split with the Musketeers during the regular season series, winning 81-72 in Providence Jan. 6, while Xavier took the rematch 84-74 in Cincinnati Feb. 28.

Providence (20-12) head coach Ed Cooley appreciated the Providence crowd making the three-hour drive to Madison Square Garden. With an attendance of 17,647 at the venue, most of it was filled with Providence gear.

“Obviously being so close to home, from Providence, we have a bunch of fans and alumni who actually moved to New York and come to see us play,” Cooley said. “We have fans who travel across the country to watch us and stuff like that.”

Creighton (21-11) was led by Marcus Foster’s 19 points on seven of 14 shooting. The BlueJays’ head coach Greg McDermott knew that games against Providence come down to the final moments.

“I felt coming into this game that it was going to be kind of a rock fight,” McDermott said. “ It usually is when we play Providence, and today certainly fit into that category.”

The BlueJays’ shot the ball better than the Friars but were unable capitalize on Providence’s missed free throws down the stretch.

Foster could have won the game on the last possession in regulation, but his 3-point attempt was short.

“The last play is something that I always work on,” Foster said. “I was doing too much, trying to dribble too much into my shot. But I was looking for the step-back 3 like I always do, and I just lost it and we ended up going overtime.”

With the Big East Conference being a competitive conference, Creighton hopes to have its name called in the NCAA Tournament.

Providence fed off of the energy at Madison Square Garden but Cooley respects the Big East regular season championship squad in Xavier.

“We’re playing against a really, really good team in Xavier, and I think it is an advantage, but I think it’s more of how we play than just the crowd,” Cooley said.

Providence will look to continue its success in the Big East Tournament against Xavier at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Trevon Bluiett exceeding his game at the right moment

New York — With the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, it didn’t take long for Trevon Bluiett to find the basket.

The Xavier senior guard scored a career Big East Tournament-high 27 points along with seven rebounds in the quarterfinals victory against St. John’s Thursday. Bluiett knows that the Musketeers are on the verge of something special in his senior season, being the No. 1-seeded team in the tournament.

“It’s coming down here and trying to win one goal, and that’s just trying to win the Big East championship,” Bluiett said. “That’s just me playing my hardest for my team, making sacrifices for my team.”

The 6-foot-6-inch guard has received a lot of attention on the national level this year with the team’s success. Blueitt has been a candidate for the National Player of the Year, All-American, Big East Player of the Year and Julius Erving Award while leading Xavier to a 28-4 record this season.

Bluiett’s game has been elevating since his freshman season and has blossomed to the player he is today. His points per game have seen an increase each year from 11.9 as a freshman to 19.4 as a senior. Thursday’s game showed that Blueitt is ready for the big stage in March.

“I don’t think I’m really trying to prove something,” Bluiett said. “It’s just my confidence is how I feel.”

In one possession in Thursday’s game against St. John’s, Bluiett attempted a contested 3-point shot in front of the Musketeers’ bench. He looked back at his head coach Chris Mack and said, “Coach, we’ll get the good ones next time down the floor.”

In the next possession where Bluiett had the ball, he made a 3-pointer to crush St. John’s hopes for a comeback. Mack’s team cruised in the final minutes of the game and advanced to Big East semifinals.

“What I love about this team is the connectivity we have,” Mack said. “The togetherness that we play with.”

It wouldn’t be a surprise to many if Bluiett and Xavier made a real deep run in the NCAA Tournament. But first, Xavier will play Providence in the Big East semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

“The mountaintop for us was winning the Big East regular season championship,” Mack said. “Now we’ve got hopefully more mountains to climb.