NEW YORK, NY - The Seton Hall Men's Basketball team has captured the Big East Tournament Championship, defeating Villanova, the nation's No. 3 team, by a final score of 69-67.
The finals game tipped off at 5:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden, with the No. 3 seeded Seton Hall Pirates taking an early lead against the Big East's No. 1 Villanova Wildcats. Seton Hall remained up by 11 at halftime, but things got tense for the Pirates during the second half, when Villanova used a furious run to pull ahead 67-64, with its first lead of the game with just 50 seconds remaining.
Local hero and Pirate MVP Isaiah Whitehead then took over, completing a fabulous 3-point play with 18 seconds to go to grab back the lead for good, and the title belonged to Seton Hall once again.
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The Hall has only captured the Big East title twice before this season, with the last time being 23 years ago in 1993, when none of the players on the team's current squad were even born. With the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament that goes to the Big East champion, the Pirates have nabbed the 10th NCAA Tournament berth in Seton Hall history, and its first in ten years. And they did it in truly impressive fashion, defeating Creighton and then national No. 5 Xavier earlier this week in the Big East Tournament before seizing the title in the final game against national powerhouse VIllanova.
The win is an incredible way to cap the season for Seton Hall, which finished the regular season with a record of 25-8, and will head into the Big Dance with a full head of steam. The team is easily playing its best ball of the season and will pose a number of issues for any opponent tasked with stopping its multiple threats on the offensive side of the ball.
Although newly-named Big East Co-Coach of the Year Kevin Willard remained calm and focused during the post-game awards and celebration, you can be sure that the students will be partying like it's 1993 in South Orange.