OMAHA, Neb. — His team trailing by a point, Xavier’s Quentin Goodin was bumped as he drove to the basket. Suddenly, he heard the sweet sound of the referee’s whistle with three-tenths of a second showing on the clock.
“Every kid’s dream,” Goodin said. “Everybody wants to be in that situation. On the road, down… and your free throws are the game winners. I don’t think it’s any better than that.”
Goodin swished both, allowing the fifth-ranked Musketeers to hold off Creighton 72-71 on Saturday.
“We hung in there and made the plays down the stretch,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I haven’t seen it on replay, so I don’t know if it was a good call, bad call. For our point guard to be able to go to the free-throw line and hit two free throws with point-3 seconds left should give him a boost of confidence like no other.”
Ronnie Harrell Jr. had made three straight free throws to give the Bluejays a one-point lead with 4.6 seconds left. Goodin then took an inbound pass from Naji Marshall and drove the length of the court. When he got into the lane, he drew contact from Harrell.
“The game plan was for me to push the ball down the floor and try to get a layup, and if I didn’t get a layup, everybody else crash and get a putback,” Goodin said. “I went to the hole aggressively and got a foul.”
Did he expect to get the call at that point in the game?
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, honestly,” he said. “There was a lot of contact.”
After Goodin’s free throws, Toby Harrell threw a baseball pass that sailed out of bounds on the other end. The Big East-leading Musketeers inbounded the ball one more time to wrap up their eighth win in a row.
“Tough way to lose a game,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought our guys absolutely competed their tails off. Our togetherness was great, our effort and intensity were great, and the crowd obviously was awesome.”
Goodin scored a career-high 17 points, J.P. Macura added 15 and Karem Kanter had 14 for Xavier (23-3, 11-2).
Marcus Foster had 20 of his 29 points in the second half for the Bluejays (18-7, 8-5), and he matched his career-high with eight rebounds. Khyri Thomas added 14 points for Creighton.
Xavier won its fourth road game in a row despite season scoring leader Trevon Bluiett being held to a season-low six points and forward Tyrique Jones missing his second straight game with a shoulder injury.
The Musketeers led 70-68 with 21.7 seconds left when Macura putback Sean O’Mara’s missed layin.
Foster missed a short shot on the other end, got his own rebound and passed to Harrell in front of the Creighton bench. Bluiett closed out strongly and ran into Harrell as Harrell launched a 3-pointer.
Harrell made all three of his free throws for a one-point lead before Goodin got to the line to win the game.
Xavier: The Musketeers come out of the game with a half-game lead over Villanova in the Big East and a real shot at being a No. 1 seed when the NCAA selection committee announces its top 16 seeds on Sunday. They swept the season series against Creighton. They beat the Bluejays 92-70 in Cincinnati on Jan. 13.
Creighton: The Bluejays lost for the first time in 14 home games this season and were denied a fourth win this season against a top-25 team.
Xavier missed all 10 of its 3-point shots in the second half and finished 3 of 19 from distance. The Bluejays made 11 of their 34 3-pointers. “We had a lot of good looks from the 3-point line and we missed 23 of them. That’s not who we are,” McDermott said.
WHERE THE BIGS ROAM
Xavier held advantages of 50-20 in points in the paint, 42-29 in rebounding and 21-5 in second-chance points. Big men Kanter and O’Mara combined for 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
The Bluejays have been struggling with their inside game since Martin Krampelj went out with a season-ending knee injury Jan. 17.
Xavier hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday. The Musketeers beat the Pirates 73-64 on the road last month.
Creighton is filling its bye week with a nonconference home game Tuesday against Division II Bemidji State.