Villanova loses to Creighton in the BET Quarterfinal + Villanova vs. Liberty Preview
Written by David Szczepanski on March 14, 2023
Brief BET Recap:
Villanova vs. Georgetown
On Wednesday night, also known as Opening Night for the Big East Tournament, Villanova battled Georgetown. From the very beginning of the game, the Wildcats took control and continued to add on against the struggling Hoyas. At the end of the first half, Villanova led Georgetown, 41-20, with Justin Moore leading the Wildcats in points with 12. Nova also shot 51.7% from the field in the first half.
In the second half, the Wildcats continued to take advantage of the Hoyas’ bad defense, especially in transition. Villanova was playing with confidence and was making most of the shots they were taking. On defense, Villanova also looked good while forcing Georgetown to take shots with the shot clock only with a few seconds left.
At the end of the game, Villanova defeated Georgetown, 80-48, to advance to the BET Quarterfinals against Creighton. In the first game, Cam Whitmore scored 19 points for the Wildcats and Justin Moore and Brandon Slater also had great games offensively while combining for 23 points. Off the bench, Mark Armstrong scored 10 points and was +31.
Villanova vs. Creighton
Villanova did not have the same efficiency in shot making just 24 hours later against Creighton. In the first half, the Wildcats had trouble scoring and a tough time keeping up with the hot three-point scoring of the Bluejays. Fortunately, for the Wildcats, they were able to stick around at the half, but they still trailed 32-23 against an incredibly talented Creighton team. At the end of the first half, Villanova also cleaned up a lot of their defensive mistakes, but had an extremely tough time getting to the basket and were forced to take contested threes, which lead to numerous turnovers.
In the second half, the Wildcats offensive struggles continued. Villanova could not keep up with Trey Alexander, Ryan Kalkbrenner, and Baylor Scheierman. With 6:38 left in the second, Creighton led Villanova by 20 points, 65-45, after a Ryan Kalkbrenner layup. It seemed like Villanova’s Big East Tournament run was coming to an end.
However, with 6:21 left in the second half, the Wildcats began to cut the deficit: Eric Dixon made a three, Caleb Daniels knocked down a three, Brandon Slater made a layup, and Eric Dixon made another three. The Wildcats finally gave the Nova Nation at MSG something to cheer about on Thursday night by trailing Creighton by just nine points with 4:46 left to play. A miracle was needed for Nova to secure the victory, but they definitely did not give up.
After a timeout, Creighton responded with a three-point jumper by Arthur Kaluma. Creighton would go on to extend their lead over Villanova and eventually defeat the Wildcats, 87-74. After struggling in the first half, Eric Dixon had another solid game against Creighton with 20 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Slater, Justin Moore, and Caleb Daniels all scored at least 13 points for Nova on Thursday. However, Cam Whitmore was just 2-7 from the field and 0-3 from three. Whitmore scored four points with six rebounds in only 24 minutes. Mark Armstrong played 22 minutes off the bench on Thursday with 2 points and three rebounds. All Creighton starters scored double digits with Ryan Kalkbrenner scoring 21 points and shooting 9-12 from the field.
BET Winner: Marquette went on to defeat Xavier, 65-51, to win the Big East Tournament.
Villanova’s NIT Berth
Villanova vs. Liberty Preview
Villanova earned and accepted a spot in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) and will play Liberty tonight at 9pm on ESPN2. It is unclear if all the starters will play against Liberty. Villanova is 17-16 overall and Liberty is 26-8 overall. Liberty lost the ASUN Championship Final to Kennesaw State, 67-66, on Sunday. They finished tied at the top of the ASUN with Kennesaw State at 15-3 in conference play. Liberty’s leading scorer is Darius McGhee, a senior guard from North Carolina, with 22.5 points per game. McGhee shot just 28.6% from the field in the ASUN Championship with 14 points and three rebounds. The only other Liberty starter who averages double digits in points is Kyle Rode, a senior forward from Kentucky, with 10.9 points per game and 3.6 rebounds.