Seton Hall, DePaul claim Opening Night wins
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Two close games, one big upset on Opening Night for the 2014 Big East Championship.
And that upset may or may not bode well for the Providence Friars. In the nightcap of the 1st round doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, 10th seeded DePaul – winners of just three conference games (out of 18 played) – managed a 60-56 win over the 7th seeded Georgetown Hoyas. The loss should eliminate the Hoyas from NCAA Tournament contention, as they fall to 17-14 on the season, despite five wins over Top 50 competition over the course of the season.
And with Georgetown’s bubble burst Wednesday night, perhaps PC’s stays inflated for at least a few hours more…with one less team in the mix for a potential at-large spot in the NCAA’s.
Georgetown shot just 38% from the floor and never established an inside game against the Blue Demons, who trailed by just 25-23 at the half. Big three’s in the second half from Juco forward Forrest Robinson, who hit 4-of-5 from deep, helped give DePaul as much as an eight point cushion with 2:40 left before holding on at the free throw line for the win. Big East Rookie of the Year Billy Garrett led the Blue Demons with 17 points, while D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera paced Georgetown with 21 points and seven rebounds. DePaul wins just their second Big East Tournament game since joining the league, and advances to face 2nd seeded Creighton Thursday night at 7.
As for Game One, Seton Hall escaped a last ditch shot by Butler’s Alex Barlow to beat the Bulldogs in their Big East tourney debut, 51-50. The Pirates built a 12-point second half margin after holding just a 23-22 halftime lead, after Fuquan Edwin connected inside. It was still a seven point advantage for SHU with 5:13 to play when Butler’s Barlow hit a three, came up with a steal and his teammate Kameron Woods tipped in a miss for a two-point game.
A Kellen Dunham layup brought the Bulldogs to the brink at 51-50 with :46 seconds left, and after a frantic finish that saw Sterling Gibbs miss a trey, a steal by Edwin, and a turnover from Dunham…Barlow’s miss from inside the half court line at the buzzer was off the mark. Khyle Marshall led Butler with 22 points, while Eugene Teague paced Seton Hall with a 14 point, 11 rebound double-double. The Pirates, who lost at Butler by 17 points just four days ago, advance to face #1 seed Villanova at Noon Thursday.
Big East Notes
The attendance of 13,177, while better than expected, was the first opening night session at the Big East Tournament that was NOT sold out since 2005...Georgetown's Smith-Rivera became just the 6th player in Big East tourney history to go at least 10-for-10 from the free throw line in a single game. It was the single-best game FT shooting performance in Georgetown history, but not enough to lead the Hoyas to a win...DePaul's win is their first since beating Cincinnati 67-57 in the 2009 tournament...as expected, the Big East Player of the Year honors went to Creighton's Doug McDermott, and the Coach of the Year honor went to Villanova's Jay Wright. Rookie of the Year was DePaul's Billy Garrett, and Scholar-Athlete of the Year was Alex Barlow of Butler...