March 13, 2014
NEW YORK, N.Y. - A short jumper by Seton Hall guard Sterling Gibbs at the buzzer lifted the Seton Hall Pirates to a 64-63 BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinal victory over the Villanova Wildcats on Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats (28-4 overall) rallied from a 15-point first half deficit before the Pirates regained the lead late in regulation.
"That was a great college basketball game," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "It was great to be a part of it. The Garden was rocking - it was a lot of fun.
"Seton Hall played better than us. They made the plays at the end."
The Pirates seized the lead early on the strength of long distance marksmanship. The game was tied at nine before the Pirates ripped off a 13-2 spurt powered by triples by Patrik Auda and Jaren Sina to take a 22-11 lead with 10:41 remaining in the first half. The margin grew to 30-15 after a Gibbs layup at the 7:14 mark.
Seton Hall took a 34-26 lead with it into the locker room. That was a season-low in first period points for the Wildcats as VU was just 7-of-26 from the field in the first 20 minutes and 1-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Seton Hall, meanwhile, connected on 14-of-31 from the field.
One reason Seton Hall thrived was the work of center Eugene Teague. He would end the day with 19 points and 12 rebounds while connecting on 7-of-9 of his attempts from the field.
The Wildcats were able to force turnovers early in the second half and it helped spark a 16-0 run that pushed Villanova back into the lead at 47-44 after a Darrun Hilliard triple with 8:03 to go. However, the Pirates pushed right back with consecutive 3-point plays, the first a long shot from Fuquan Edwin and the second a traditional and one from Teague and Seton Hall was back in front at 50-47 with 6:19 to go.
The contest was nip and tuck for the duration of the afternoon.
A Sina 3-pointer from the corner off a Gibbs feed with 17 seconds left put the Pirates up 62-61. On its next possession, Villanova got the ball to Hilliard in the middle of the floor and the junior made a short jumper with 7.8 seconds to go that put the Wildcats in front. That set the stage for the final possession.
Seton Hall inbounded the ball from the sideline and Gibbs collected a pass. He dribbled just inside the 3-point line, raised up and sank the bucket as the horn sounded.
Josh Hart led the Wildcats with 18 points and six rebounds while Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston each added 11 points. VU sank a season-low four 3-point field goals and was just 22-of-58 from the field (.379). It also was hurt by a 15-of-25 performance at the free throw line.
"We had a very tough game with them at their place," noted Wright of Seton Hall. "They're a very good offensive team and I thought they had a smart game plan on us. I thought they were very smart defensively and it paid off for them."
The No. 3 Wildcats now return home to begin looking ahead to the next step in their post-season.
"This was not about a one seed or a two seed or anything like that," stated Wright. "We wanted to come to Madison Square Garden to win the Big East Tournament. Winning the Big East Tournament was more important to us than a one seed. This is a great tournament and we wanted to be here until Saturday. We're most disappointed about that."
"My belief with NCAA seeding is that a one, two or three seed doesn't matter that much. You are going to play great teams."
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