Big East roundup: Pirates hold off Friars' rally
NEW YORK -- Defense? Who needs defense?
Seton Hall and Providence broke the Big East tournament scoring record for a regulation game -- by 29 points -- and the Pirates held off a furious rally to hold on for a 109-106 victory in the opening round at Madison Square Garden.
The Friars, down 29 points with 13:32 to play, got close enough that Duke Mondy missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left that would have tied the game. Seton Hall (19-11) advances to face seventh-seeded Notre Dame (21-10), and a win there would help the Pirates' NCAA Tournament hopes.
"We're just happy to survive and advance," Pirates coach Bobby Gonzalez said. "Sometimes when you get up like that, it's not easy to stay ahead in a game that long."
Providence forward Jamine Peterson had 38 points -- matching the second-most ever in a tournament game and breaking Billy Donovan's 23-year-old Friars record for the tournament. He also had 16 rebounds, while Herb Pope led Seton Hall with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
The two teams combined for 215 points -- despite missing a combined 25 free throws -- as all 10 starters scored in double figures. The teams combined for 62 free throws in the second half alone.
Gonzalez would not allow his players to answer questions about the NCAA Tournament, but said he feels his team has a strong case for an at-large bid, even if it's as the Big East's ninth team in the field. (Sure sounds like he's trying to compare his team to USF, which has the same Big East record, a better overall record and beat the Pirates head-to-head, but has a lower RPI from a weaker nonconference schedule.)
"Let me just say this: We have 19 wins with no bad losses," Gonzalez said. "We beat Notre Dame at our place. A lot of people are saying they're in. We know it's a big game. If we win, now all the sudden we swept Notre Dame and we're at 20 wins. We'll leave it up to the people making the decision, but we just want to keep playing."
ST. JOHN'S 73, CONNECTICUT 51: Two weeks ago, Connecticut had beaten two top 10 teams in West Virginia and Villanova as part of a three-game win streak. Tuesday's loss to the 13th-seeded Red Storm finished a four-game losing streak that took the 12th-seeded Huskies out of contention for the NCAA Tournament.
St. John's (17-14) handed the Huskies their sixth straight Big East tournament loss, getting 19 points and 10 rebounds from forward Sean Evans. Guard Jerome Dyson, UConn's leading scorer, had just four points and committed nine of the Huskies' 20 turnovers.
"They came out here with purpose, physicality and quite frankly handed us our butts," said coach Jim Calhoun, who called reports of his potential retirement "erroneous."
The Red Storm advance to face fifth-seeded Marquette in today's quarterfinals -- the two teams went to overtime two weeks ago before the Golden Eagles prevailed.
"I don't think there's any team that players harder than my team," coach Norm Roberts said. "I also think what they're doing right now is they're playing not only hard but playing with their hearts."
AWARDS: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and forward Wesley Johnson swept Big East coach and player of the year honors after leading the Orange to the conference regular-season crown.
"We were picked sixth because nobody believed me when I told them Wesley Johnson was pretty good," Boeheim said in accepting the award. "If you had believed me, then I wouldn't be up here. Teach you a lesson."
Cincinnati's Lance Stephenson was named Rookie of the Year, and Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis was named Scholar of the Year.