Villanova beats Seton Hall to become first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournament titles

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Villanova beats Seton Hall to become first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournament titles

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NEW YORK — Villanova became the first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournaments, beating Seton Hall 74-72 on Saturday night behind seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth and key contributions from freshman Saddiq Bey.

Seton Hall star Myles Powell, guarded closely by Booth, missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that could have won it. Booth was called for traveling as he tried to corral the rebound, however, and the Pirates got one more chance with 0.4 seconds left. Anthony Nelson's long inbounds lob bounced off the backboard and was slapped away by the Wildcats, who got to party on the Madison Square Garden floor yet again.

"This one is special, very special. This team has taught me so much," Booth said during the postgame ceremonies at center court. "These young dudes are like a fresh breath of air for me, being around them."

The 25th-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats (25-9) were in the Big East final for a fifth straight year, and have won four of the last five championships. The only loss during that span was to Seton Hall in 2016, and Powell and the third-seeded Pirates (20-13) gave Villanova all it could handle once again.

"Can't thank Phil and Eric for their leadership enough," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "They've been great examples of what a Villanova basketball player is their whole career."

Powell scored 25 points to cap a spectacular three days in Manhattan for the high-scoring guard.

Paschall had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Booth scored 16 and was selected most outstanding player of the 40th Big East Tournament.

Bey, who Villanova fans hope will lead the next wave of championship teams, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"Our team loves playing here in the Garden," Wright said.

Villanova had a chance to seal it in the final 30 seconds but Paschall was called for a charge when he lowered his shoulder into Myles Cale with 24 seconds left. Powell quickly scored inside at the other end to cut the Wildcats' lead to 73-72 with 15.5 seconds left.

The Pirates sent Paschall to the line with 13.7 seconds remaining and he made the first and missed the second. Seton Hall rebounded and called a timeout to set up a final play with 8.9 seconds left.

Big picture 
Seton Hall: Nelson scored 12 points off the bench for the scrappy Pirates, but other than Powell, they had a hard time finding offense. They did force 14 turnovers. They'll go as far as Powell and a tough defense will take them in the NCAAs.

Villanova: The Wildcats also got key contributions from sophomores Jermaine Samuels (12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (six points and seven rebounds). The inexperienced players have provided inconsistent production much of the season, and if Wright's team is going to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats will need more games like this one from the young guys.

"Things were rocky right until the last second of this game," Wright said. "It's been a rocky season."

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Seton Hall: The Pirates are headed to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, matching a school best (1991-94).

Villanova: The defending national champions will be in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season, but will probably be seeded worse than a 2 for the first time since 2013. Villanova also won the 2016 national title.

No. 23 Villanova stunned by Seton Hall in regular-season finale

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No. 23 Villanova stunned by Seton Hall in regular-season finale

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NEWARK, N.J. — A couple of stunning wins may have put Seton Hall back in the NCAA Tournament, and the last one dforced No. 23 Villanova to wait a couple of hours to win the Big East Conference regular-season title.

Myles Powell scored 20 points, Myles Cale added 19 and Seton Hall upset the defending national champions 79-75 on Saturday, three days after knocking off No. 16 Marquette to revive its chances of going to college basketball's biggest tournament.

"We just beat two ranked teams. We beat Kentucky. We beat Maryland," said Powell, who added seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in more than 36 minutes. "The list goes on. We can play with anybody in the country when we are playing our basketball."

Seton Hall (18-12, 9-9), picked to finish eighth in the 10-team conference in the preseason poll, has exceeded all expectations playing with lone senior Michael Nzei.

Villanova (22-9, 13-5) came into the game needing a win to clinch its fifth outright title in six years. Despite the loss, the Wildcats won the crown and the No. 1 seed in next week's tournament when Georgetown beat No. 16 Marquette 84-85, handing the Golden Eagles their fourth straight loss.

"Seton Hall played really well right from the start, very locked in, very ready to play," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team shared the conference title with Xavier last season. "For whatever reason, a number of little reasons, we just didn't have our guys ready to play at the start. They just jumped us early and it took us until the second half to really get going, which is disappointing.

"But that's what happened, and I was proud of our guys. We actually started competing in the second half and it just wasn't enough."

Jared Rhoden had a career-high 15 points, Sandro Mamukelashvili had 12 and a career-best 18 rebounds for Seton Hall. Nzei added 10 in his final home game.

"Our main focus right now is to win the Big East championship," said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose team will have a first-round bye.

Collin Gillespie had 22 points and Phil Booth came on late to add 16 for Villanova. Eric Paschall had 14, Saddiq Bey added 13 and Jermaine Samuels 10. The Wildcats, who have won of the last three national titles, didn't get a point from their bench.

"They were playing with great confidence coming off the Marquette game," Wright said of Seton Hall. "They looked really dialed in, just really efficient and we were not. You play a good team like that, you can't play 25 minutes."

This was almost like a tournament game with the Wildcats looking to clinch the regular-season crown and Seton Hall fighting to stay in the hunt for an NCAA berth.

Villanova rallied from a 16-point deficit early in the second half to draw within 66-65 on two free throws by Gillespie with 3:57 to go.

That would be as close as they got as Nzei scored inside and Mamukelashvili hit a follow for a 70-65 lead.

The Wildcats never got closer than three points the rest of the way.

"This feels really good, knowing we accomplished a lot," Cale said of this week. "But we know its unfinished business. We have to do more in the Big East Tournament. We are looking to go to the NCAA Tournament and see what we can do there."

The Pirates led most of the game and it ballooned from a 39-28 halftime lead to 16 points in the opening minutes of the second half. Powell hit two free throws and Cale, who was in a bit of a slump recently, hit a 3-pointer.

Villanova didn't wait long to start its comeback, scoring the next 13 points to draw within 44-41 on two free throws by Paschall.

It was Seton Hall's turn after that. Cale hit a 3-pointer to ignite a 12-4 run that put the Pirates ahead 56-45 with 11:38 to go.

Over the next eight minutes, the Wildcats whittled to lead down to a point, but that was it.

Big picture

Villanova: Plays in the Big East Tournament and then goes to NCAA Tournament.

Seton Hall: Will try to win the Big East Tournament and earn automatic NCAA berth.

Up next

Villanova: After a first-round bye, it plays the opening quarterfinal game at Madison Square Garden at noon on Thursday against either DePaul, Providence or Creighton.

Seton Hall: Will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed against an opponent to be determined later Saturday.

Phil Booth drains 7 3-pointers as No. 18 Villanova blows out Seton Hall

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Phil Booth drains 7 3-pointers as No. 18 Villanova blows out Seton Hall

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Phil Booth hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points, helping No. 18 Villanova beat Seton Hall 80-52 on Sunday for its eighth consecutive victory.

The Wildcats (16-4, 7-0 Big East) made 17 3s and are rolling toward another conference crown under coach Jay Wright. The national champions still have some kinks to work out to become a deep threat in March — namely, finding a third scorer — but again should be a low single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Pirates (12-8, 3-5) remain 0-for-Nova on the road since 1994. The Wildcats have won 17 straight games on their home court against Seton Hall (15-0 Pavilion; 2-0 Wells Fargo Center) and were never threatened in this one.

The Wildcats held Seton Hall to just nine baskets through the first 26 minutes and Collin Gillespie hit Villanova's ninth 3-pointer to push the lead to 45-26.

Eric Paschall and Booth are a two-person show for the Wildcats and shot the team out of their early season funk (that included four losses by Dec. 16). Against the Pirates, Paschall and Booth combined for six 3s and 26 points in the first half. The duo outscored Seton Hall 26-20 and the Wildcats led by 10 at the break. Booth missed a 3, the offensive rebound got kicked out to him and he nailed a 3 from the top of the arc to make it 30-20.

Paschall finished with 17 points, going over 1,000 for his career.

Seton Hall had 14 turnovers in the first half and missed 8 of 10 3-pointers, the latest inept performance against a Villanova program the Pirates have not defeated since 2016.

Myles Cale led Seton Hall with 14 points and the Pirates shot 35 percent from the floor.

Big picture

Seton Hall: The Pirates have lost five of six games and continue to struggle on defense after allowing 97 points last time out to DePaul. It's hard to believe this is the same team that beat Kentucky and Maryland in December.

Villanova: The Wildcats also need to tighten up their free-throw shooting. They made just 7 of 13 attempts.

Up next

Seton Hall hosts Providence on Wednesday.

Villanova plays Wednesday night at DePaul.