No. 2 ‘Cats close at Pavilion with 79-63 win over No. 23 Creighton

Matt Fowler


On Senior Day last Saturday, the men’s basketball team bid farewell to the Pavilion with a 79-63 win over No. 23 Creighton to clinch their fourth-straight outright BIG EAST regular season title.

On a day to celebrate the seniors, it was sophomore Eric Paschall who stole the spotlight. Paschall led the team in scoring with a season-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

“When [Eric’s] in the game, we’re executing at a high level,” Head Coach Jay Wright said. “We’re just starting to see what he can do offensively.”

Offensively, Paschall wasn’t alone, as three others scored in double figures including seniors Josh Hart (16) and Kris Jenkins (15). Even though the team shot an abysmal 4-for-19 from three, that didn’t stop Jenkins from contributing to the win.

“[Other teams] try to take away the three,” Jenkins explained. “I have to adjust to how teams play me and always be aggressive to make the right play for my teammates.”

Without the three point shot, the Wildcats relied on free throws and stifling defense to pull away from the Blue Jays. The team went on a 12-4 run midway through the second half including seven made free throws in that span. The Wildcats ended the game on a 12-3 run highlighted by a Mikal Bridges diving steal which led to a thunderous slam by Hart. The crowd promptly exploded.

After the game, Hart and Jenkins had their eyes set on more than just celebrating their accomplishments as a Wildcat.

“Of talented players, these two are the most intelligent and humble of any I’ve seen,” Wright said.

“This game isn’t about the seniors,” Hart said. “It’s about the next step in our journey.”

That next step looks to be the Georgetown Hoyas on March 4th to close out the regular season, followed by the Big East Tournament and ensuing NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will look to regain their crown as Big East Tournament champions after losing to Seton Hall in the finals last year. The Wildcats will then look to defend their crown in the NCAA Tournament in March.

When asked about his career coming to an end in the final game at the Pavilion, Jenkins responded in a way that would make any Villanovan excited for March.

“It’s not over.”

Kris, we can’t wait to see what comes next.