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Seton Hall Unable to Upset Villanova

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – The first Big East Tournament semi-final game of the day, featured the Villanova Wildcats squaring off against the Seton Hall Pirates. This was a rematch of last year’s Championship game, where Seton Hall knocked off the Wildcats in a 69-67 thriller.

In this year’s match-up, both teams came out of the gate ready to play defensively. The tone of physicality was set early, and the refs looked like they were letting both teams play out there. The defensive pressure from Seton Hall, helped to hold Villanova to just 26% shooting from the field in the first half.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) The Pirates first half defensive pressure forcing a traveling violation.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) The Pirates’ defensive pressure forcing a traveling violation in the first half.

Seton Hall stuck to their game plan, of attacking the rim and taking quality shot opportunities. The Pirates shot 40% from the field in the first half, Angel Delgado really made his presence known in the interior, both offensively and defensively. Myles Powell was also electric in the first half, hitting three shots from beyond the arc. The efforts of Powell and Delgado, helped the Pirates to a 27-20 lead heading into halftime.

In the second half, Villanova played much better basketball and was able to match Seton Hall’s intensity. The Wildcats shot 59% (13 for 22) in the second half, led by Josh Hart (19 points, 10 rebounds). Hart had a couple game changing plays that swung the momentum Villanova’s way, just when you thought Seton Hall was about to pull away.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Hart made a clutch free throw to put Villanova up 55-53.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Hart made a clutch free throw to put Villanova up 55-53.

None was bigger than when Hart connected on a put back shot off a Kris Jenkins missed three pointer, with :13 seconds remaining. Hart was fouled, and completed the conventional three point play to put the Wildcats up 55-53 with :09 seconds remaining.

Seton Hall had a golden opportunity to tie the game on the final possession. The Pirates worked the ball around, and got it into Delgado with good post position. Delgado made a good move, but missed a point blank range lay-up as time expired.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Delgado had a great look on the final shot.

(Photo Credit: Barry Holmes) Delgado had a great look on the final shot.

Villanova escaped a close call, to advance to their third straight Big East Tournament Championship game. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Creighton Blue Jays and Xavier Musketeers. The Wildcats have to come out ready to play, and can’t have a “sleepwalk” performance like they did in the first half against Seton Hall. Both Xavier and Creighton are more than capable of knocking off the Wildcats.

If Villanova can end up winning the Big East Conference Tournament, it should give them good momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. Momentum the Wildcats will definitely need, to be able to pull off two straight National Titles.

Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @BHO732

(Featured Photo Credit: Barry Holmes/PureSportsNY)

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