Booth leads comeback in Villanova’s 90-78 win over Creighton
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Phil Booth scored 19 of his 28 points after halftime to ignite Villanova’s surge as the Wildcats came from behind again to beat Creighton 90-78 on Sunday.
Booth made all four of his 3-pointers in the second half and scored eight straight points early in a 26-6 spurt that turned Villanova’s 47-38 deficit into a 64-53 lead with 9 ½ minutes left. The Bluejays had two scoring droughts of more than 4 minutes as Villanova (13-4, 4-0 Big East) pulled away.
For the Bluejays (10-7, 1-3), the loss came after they twice led by nine and followed their crushing overtime home loss to No. 21 Marquette on Wednesday. In that game, they gave up a Big East-record 53 points to Markus Howard and blew a three-point lead with less than a second left in regulation.
The defending champion Wildcats continue to show their toughness, coming back from sizeable deficits for the third time in four games. They trailed by 13 before beating No. 24 St. John’s on Tuesday and by 14 in a win over DePaul on Jan. 2.
Eric Paschall had 21 points, Collin Gillespie made four 3s while scoring 14, and Jermaine Samuels, making his first start since November, added 13 for the Wildcats.
Ty-Shawn Alexander made five 3-pointers and scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half as Creighton got out to a nine-point lead. The Bluejays were up nine again early in the second, at 47-38, before Villanova stormed back.
Booth led the Wildcats to their first lead since the opening four minutes after Paschall converted a nice pass in the lane from Gillespie to start cutting into the Bluejays’ nine-point lead.
Booth made three free throws after Mitch Ballock fouled him as he attempted a 3-pointer and then a jumper and 3-pointer to put Villanova up 48-47 with 16:36 left.
Samuels converted a 3-point play after his strong dunk over big man Martin Krampelj to make it a 13-0 run for Villanova.
The Bluejays got it back to 51-all as Davion Mintz hit two free throws and Marus Zegarowski made a layup to end a scoring drought longer than four minutes. Then Alexander’s basket gave Creighton the lead.
But Booth made back-to-back 3s, Gillespie hit from deep, Jermaine Samuels had a dunk putback of Saddiq Bey’s missed dunk and then Bey successful dunked to close a 13-0 spurt that made it an 11-point game for Villanova.
Krampelj had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bluejays and Ballock had 13 points.
Villanova: The Wildcats have won five straight and are the only unbeaten team in Big East play. They played their best half of the season on defense in the second half, limiting up-tempo Creighton to 40-percent shooting and 36 points.
Creighton: The Bluejays, who played without injured starter Damien Jefferson (calf, ankle) have lost three of four Big East games and now have to go on the road for back-to-back games.
Villanova hosts Xavier on Friday.
Creighton visits St. John’s on Wednesday.
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