Villanova 55, Seton Hall 53
NEW YORK — Villanova hung on for a narrow 55-53 victory over Seton Hall in Friday’s Big East semifinals in one of the more interesting games in the entire tournament. Seton Hall was in control for the majority of the contest, but a late surge of scoring from Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart allowed the Wildcats to eke out a win at the Garden.
This was Seton Hall’s game to lose. The Pirates held Villanova to a season-low 20 points in the first-half due to their tremendous length on the perimeter. A hyperactive style of play on the defensive end left the Wildcats visibly frustrated. Brunson, Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 4-of-18 shooting from the field in the first twenty minutes, the lowest shooting percentage from that trio in one half all season.
However, Seton Hall was never able to put the game out of reach. After hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, the Pirates only hit one in the last 20 minutes. Nine turnovers in the second frame plagued the Pirates and played a large factor in Villanova’s comeback. Hart led all scorers with 19 points, including 14 in the second half.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright had nothing but praise for Seton Hall after the game.
“I think they did a great job preparing the team,” he said. “I think they’re going to get some people in the tournament.”
Villanova vs. Creighton is slated to tip-off at 4:30 p.m. CT on FOX.
Creighton 75, Xavier 72
In Friday’s nightcap, Creighton once again had to come from behind to defeat its opponent, downing Xavier in the final 10 seconds for a 75-72 victory. With Creighton’s win, teams trailing at the half in this year’s Big East Tournament have won five of the eight contests.
Creighton trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but rode a hot shooting streak in the second period to surpass Xavier for good with a Marcus Foster 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining. The Bluejays hit 13 threes, with seven of those in the second half.
As for Xavier, their conference schedule is over but head coach Chris Mack was confident in what his team has done in terms of their NCAA Tournament resume the past few days.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Mack said. “It’s hard to say I’m happy after we lose, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. We had guys that were playing heavy minutes all weekend and they battled. It’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Creighton’s matchup with Villanova will be the first Creighton-Villanova matchup in the history of the Big East Tournament. Villanova will enter with an extra level of confidence over the Blue Jays, after defeating them by an average of 13 points in their two contests against each other this year.