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GIANTSLAYERS! Hall Knocks Out Top Seed Villanova

by Christian Pierre-Louis | Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
(Photo: USA Today)

(Photo: USA Today)

Sterling Gibbs hit a step-back jumper at the buzzer and Seton Hall stunned No. 3 Villanova 64-63 in a thrilling Big East quarterfinal Thursday, a loss that will most likely cost the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

In the preview to this game I spoke about how Sterling Gibbs needed to step up and make an impact on the game and boy, did he ever; the point guard had 10 points along with six dimes and of course the biggest shot of the Hall’s season.

Center Eugene Teague had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth-seeded Pirates (17-16), who advanced to the Big East tournament semifinals for the first time in 13 years. They will play Providence on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Freshman Josh Hart came off the bench and scored 18 to lead the top-seeded Wildcats (28-4), beaten only twice in 18 regular-season conference games while winning their first outright Big East title since 1982. Both losses were blowouts by soon-to-be player of the year, Doug McDermott and Creighton.

Patrik Auda scored all 13 of his points in the first half for Seton Hall, who were major underdogs. But the confident Pirates, familiar to playing in close games, built a 15-point lead and recovered after Villanova sprinted past them with a 16-0 run in the second half.

Villanova took a 63-62 lead on Darrun Hilliard’s layup with 7.8 seconds to go. Seton Hall pushed the ball past halfcourt, then called timeout with 3.7 seconds left.

Jaren Sina inbounded and Gibbs backed off Hilliard with a lethal step back, draining a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key just as the buzzer sounded.

A fired-up Gibbs, jumped onto the scorer’s table and looked up at the crowd as excited teammates ran all over the court in celebration.

The shot was an exact copy of the one Kemba Walker hit three years ago at the Garden during Connecticut’s captivating run to Big East and NCAA tournament championships. That buzzer-beating jumper by Walker, also in the quarterfinals, beat a top-seeded Pittsburgh team that was led by Gibbs’ brother, Ashton. Maybe Seton Hall is on a run of their own?

Hilliard scored all 11 of his points for Nova, in the second half. JayVaughn Pinkston also had 11 for the Wildcats, but the 77 percent free throw shooter was 3 of 10 at the foul line as the Wildcats went 15 for 25 (60 percent) to Seton Hall’s 6-for-9 mark.

The Pirates limited Villanova to 37.9 percent shooting and 21.1 percent from 3-point range (4 for 19), less than 18 hours after holding Butler to a 2-for-18 mark (11.1 percent) from long distance in the opening round.

Playing in the Big East quarterfinals for the first time since 2003, the Pirates improved to 4-5 in one-point games this season. And they did it despite getting only seven points from leading scorer and Captain, Fuquan Edwin on 3-of-15 shooting.

Villanova won both regular-season meetings, by an average of 16.5 points, and figured to have an advantage again after Seton Hall had to hold off Butler 51-50 Wednesday night.

Early on, though, it was the Pirates who looked fresh even though they had little time to rest.

On a cold day in the Concrete Jungle, the Wildcats took a while to heat up. They missed 13 of their first 14 attempts from 3-point range and trailed 44-31 with 14 minutes remaining. But they made a barrage of turnovers during that 16-0 run and took their first lead at 47-44 on Hilliard’s 3-pointer with 8:03 left.

Fuquan Edwin tied it with a 3 and Teague followed with a three-point play to put the Pirates back in front.

With the score tied at 59, Ryan Arcidiacono’s steal sent Villanova on a fast break that ended in Hart’s layup with 40 seconds left.

The Pirates, then worked the ball around before Sina nailed a 3 from the left corner for a 62-61 edge with 17.2 seconds remaining.

It was Seton Hall’s first victory in five tries against top-seeded teams at the Big East tournament.

This was a great win for the program as the team extends their season, at least for one more day.

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