Hart's Game-Winner Helps Villanova Eliminate Pirates in BETDate: March 11, 2017
By Kevin Huebler
NEW YORK--Leading by one over the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats with under 30 seconds to play, all the Seton Hall Pirates needed was one stop. They were on the verge of getting it when Kris Jenkins took a deep three-point attempt that missed wide right, but Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart finish at the rim and complete the ensuing three-point play with 9 seconds remaining to beat The Hall 55-53 in the Big East Semifinals.
Angel Delgado had a chance to put the Pirates in front on the final possession. Delgado caught a pass from the right wing, guarded by Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall on the right block. Delgado attempted his traditional turn-around jumper, but it was too soft and clanged off the front iron, and the attempted put-back missed as well with time expiring, ending Seton Hall’s hopes to repeat as Big East Tournament champions.
Heading into the final minute of play, Seton Hall held a one point lead, after Khadeen Carrington completed a three-point play to put SHU up 53-52. Carrington, who was out of bounds after missing his initial shot, re-established himself in bounds in time to grab the Delgado miss and get the put-back. The two teams traded turnovers over the next several possessions before Hart was able to put the Wildcats up by one.
Carrington would finish with 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field. Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates with 14 points, shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The Pirates gave the defending national champions their all, leading by 11 at one point and holding Villanova to just 20 points and 27 percent shooting from the floor in the first half. The Wildcats didn't even hold their first lead until the 9:20 mark of the second half.
“Their game plan was better than ours. They were playing great all night,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said after the game. “Their athleticism and their physicality, they are one of the most physical teams in the league and the things they do they just match up well against us.”
The Hall held Jenkins to just 1-of-8 shooting from the floor and Hart to 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 13 points.
“He challenged us,” Hart said of Wright's game plan coming out of halftime. “We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. We knew we weren't going to blow them out by 20 in the second half.”
The Pirates were able to keep much of the Villanova crowd silent inside a sold-out Madison Square Garden for most of the night. It was the second straight year that the two teams sold out the World's Most Famous Arena.
“The atmosphere was great,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard. “I thought both schools really showed up. This is the best basketball tournament and it's a great tradition.”
After the game, it was easy to see the respect both of these teams have for each other, with Willard saying “I have enjoyed watching Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart develop as young men. They represent the league at the highest level.”
Delgado, who is always an emotional player, was nearly inconsolable under the basket after missing the final shot. Josh Hart was the first of the Wildcats to get to Delgado.
“We had this feeling last year,” Hart said. “I told him that you have this feeling right now, when the NCAA tournament time comes, don't have this feeling again.”
The Pirates now await their fate with the NCAA Tournament bracket coming out on Sunday. WSOU will have special coverage beginning at 5:30 P.M. Eastern on Sunday.