No. 14 Villanova kept its hopes at a Big East title alive after a 79-77 road upset over No. 8 Seton Hall.
The Pirates (21-8, 13-4) had a chance to clinch their first outright regular-season title since 1993, but they couldn't pull out the win as Myles Powell was held to 14 points.
Seton Hall cut a 14-point second-half deficit down to one in the final seconds, even getting a shot to win as time expired after a flurry of missed free throws from Villanova. The late attempts simply didn't fall down as the Pirates suffered a disappointing home loss.
It kept the door open for Villanova (23-7, 12-5) to clinch a share of the conference championship despite the recent disappointing loss to Providence. Saddiq Bey missed two key free throws down the stretch but still had 20 points to ruin senior night at the Prudential Center.
Jermaine Samuels added 19 points to help the Wildcats battle for a high seed in the NCAA tournament.
- Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall: 14 points, eight assists, four rebounds
- Sandro Mamukelashvili, F, Seton Hall: 20 points, 10 rebounds
- Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova: 20 points, three rebounds
- Jermaine Samuels, G, Villanova: 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists
3-Point Shooting Helps Villanova Pull Out Win
Villanova entered the day 13-1 when hitting 10 three-point shots in a game, and that strategy came through again Wednesday.
The Wildcats finished 13-of-32 from beyond the arc against Seton Hall, with all five starters knocking down at least two threes. Justin Moore was the best of the bunch while going 5-of-8 from three-point range.
Things picked up in the second half as a stretch of five threes by four different players helped key an 18-5 run to build a double-digit lead.
Seton Hall battled back numerous times, but Villanova continued to make shot after shot to stay ahead. The outside shooting also opened up the middle of the lane for some easy baskets, as the visitors finished an incredible 68.1 percent on two-point attempts.
Even with zero bench points, the starting five did its job offensively to keep the pressure on its opponent throughout the night.
Balanced Attack Helps Seton Hall Stay Competitive
While Powell gets a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Seton Hall has a veteran team with three seniors and three juniors among the top seven players in its rotation.
Mamukelashvili knocked down a long three-point shot to keep the Pirates within one possession in the final minute. He also reached 20 points for the second straight game after scoring 26 against Marquette.
Shavar Reynolds Jr. also came through with his first double-digit effort of his three-year career (12 points), while Quincy McKnight was everywhere on the court:
It helped take pressure off Powell, who didn't have his best shooting night (5-of-18 from the field). Even with the Wildcats shooting the lights out, Seton Hall was able to stay competitive.
Still, the Pirates will need its All-American candidate to play at that level if they want to beat elite teams in March.
Powell contributed eight assists to just one turnover, but he will need to provide more consistent scoring for the team to reach expectations going forward.
Both teams will close their regular seasons on the road Saturday. Villanova will take on Georgetown, while Seton Hall will face Creighton in what could be an exciting Big East battle.