There will be no rematch. Barring a surprising meeting in the NCAA Tournament, Seton Hall’s seniors won’t get one more crack at Villanova.
Sixth-seeded Butler made sure of that, pulling out a dramatic, last-second 75-74 victory on Tyler Wideman’s tip-in with three seconds left in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals at the Garden late Thursday night.
Moments earlier, with 11.6 seconds left, Khadeen Carrington had given third-seeded Seton Hall the lead with a three-point play. Kamar Baldwin, Butler’s sensational sophomore, who was virtually unstoppable all evening, drove to the rim, the entire Pirates team converging on him. His shot was off, but Wideman was there for the follow.
Myles Powell’s desperation 3-pointer at the horn came up short, sending the Bulldogs to their first Big East Tournament victory in their fifth chance. They will meet No. 2 Villanova in the tournament semifinals Friday night after No. 1 Xavier faces fourth-seeded Providence. Seton Hall will now wait for Sunday to see where it is headed for the NCAA Tournament next week.
Seton Hall (21-11), which had defeated Butler just five days earlier, raced out to a 14-point, first-half lead but couldn’t hold it, mostly due to Baldwin. He buried the Pirates with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, getting to wherever on the floor he wanted. The return from injury of Ismael Sanogo and Desi Rodriguez couldn’t save the Pirates this time.
Seton Hall started the second half slowly, scoreless over the first 3:12, and Butler quickly got within four. After a Sandro Mamukelashvili 3-pointer, the lead was pushed back to nine, but it never got into double-figures, Butler refusing to go away. Sean McDermott’s 3-pointer sliced it to two, 53-51, with 12:13 to go. Out of a timeout, Delgado answered with a jumper from the free-throw line, and so it went for the next several minutes.
A 6-0 run seemed to give Seton Hall the breathing room it would need, a 64-57 lead with 5:54 left. But Baldwin converted three straight three-point plays, pulling Butler even at 66 with 3:37 to go on a deep left-wing 3-pointer behind a screen, the first tie since the opening tip.
Powell sank his first shot, a turnaround 3-pointer, a sign of the torrid shooting first half for the Pirates. Seton Hall shot 65 percent from the field, hit 7-of-9 3-point attempts, and took a 43-35 lead into the break. If not for nine turnovers, and Baldwin’s impeccable shot-making en route to 14 first-half points, the lead would’ve been much larger. As it was, Seton Hall led by as many as 14, 27-13, on the strength of a 12-3 run, before Butler came alive, answering with its own 13-3 spurt, nine coming from Baldwin.
Rodriguez and Sanogo came in together at the 12:52 mark, and received a nice hand from the partisan Seton Hall crowd. Sanogo, in particular, was impressive, scoring 12 points and making all five of his shot attempts. Rodriguez hit both of his in eight minutes in the opening half.