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Big East Tournament: Marcus Foster, Creighton hold on against Xavier to reach final

Marcus Foster #0 of the Creighton Bluejays is

Marcus Foster #0 of the Creighton Bluejays is defended by Trevon Bluiett #5 of the Xavier Musketeers during the semifinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York on Friday, March 10, 2017. Big East Basketball Tournament between Seton Hall and Villanova. Credit: Steven Ryan

Creighton watched J.P. Macura hit three of his six three-pointers in the final seven minutes, helping to bring Xavier back from the brink with every perfectly placed arc. But make no mistake — the Bluejays weren’t demoralized.

They were inspired.

With the score tied, Marcus Foster hit a long three-pointer with eight seconds left. Then Macura — a few steps beyond the line with time expiring — missed his three-point attempt as Creighton beat Xavier, 75-72, in a Big East Tournament semifinal Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Bluejays went 13-for-20 from outside the arc, including two from Foster in the final 2:15.

Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett hit a three with 16 seconds left to tie the score at 72. After that, Foster looked toward the coaching staff for guidance. Coach Greg McDermott basically told him to look within himself.

“He said, ‘Let’s just play,’ ” Foster said. “So I did. I just got into my routine of how I usually play and I just took a big shot for my team.”

The Bluejays (25-8) will face top-seeded Villanova at 5:30 today for the championship. “It means a lot to me,” Foster said. “Especially growing up, I wanted to play at Madison Square Garden and have this moment . . . It shows the hard work and all the effort we have is paying off.”

The Musketeers (21-13) managed to take small, brief leads in a second half that otherwise appeared Creighton’s to lose. After Bluiett’s step-back jumper drew Xavier to 70-69, Justin Patton responded with a mere wave of his fingertips, as his tip-in with 1:18 left set up Creighton for the closing sequence.

Foster and Justin Patton scored 21 points each. Macura 22 points and Bluiett added 18.

“We have nothing to hang our head about,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “Guys competed for three days. I think we grew.”

Creighton overcame a nine-point first-half deficit in the opening minutes of the second half, thanks to back-to-back threes by Cole Huff and Patton. Another three by Khyri Thomas put the Bluejays up 42-41.

“We work so hard together and it showed tonight on the court, the way we kept fighting,” Foster said. “It means a lot to us.”


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