Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Seton Hall stuns 'Nova

NEW YORK — Kevin Willard was being interviewed on live television when Isaiah Whitehead and a couple of his Seton Hall teammates ran up and started rubbing the coach's shaved head.

You can do that when you just led your team to its first Big East tournament title in 23 years.

"Awesome. It's absolutely awesome. It's beyond words," Willard said. "I'm so happy for these kids. … They worked so hard, I'm just so happy for them."

Even the ones who interrupted the interview.

Whitehead earned tournament MVP honors after scoring 26, including the deciding three-point play with 18 seconds left, as the Pirates beat No. 3 Villanova 69-67 on Saturday night.

Whitehead drove hard on the right side, flipped the ball in softly off the glass and was fouled. His free throw gave the Pirates a 68-67 lead.

Villanova had two more chances sandwiched around a free throw by Angel Delgado, but the Pirates held on to beat the defending champions in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.

"This whole year coach has been raving about just making winning plays and making winning plays," Whitehead said. "I really just attacked the basket. I felt I had an opportunity to score the ball. I mean, I saw Kris Jenkins coming over and I knew that he wouldn't be able to get in position fast enough for me to draw a charge. I just tried to lay it in on him."

It was Seton Hall's third Big East tournament title, the others coming in 1991 and 1993. The third-seeded Pirates (25-8) earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, their first berth in 10 years.

And they did it by beating No. 5 Xavier in the semifinals then Villanova (29-5) for the title.

"Whoever we play just better watch out," Whitehead said. "We really defend at a high level. When we get on the break, it's hard to stop us. It really doesn't matter who we play; we're up for the challenge."

Seton Hall led for almost the entire game, going ahead by 14 in the first half and 11 at halftime. The top-seeded Wildcats finally started hitting from 3-point range in the second half.

AMERICA EAST: Jameel Warney scored 43 and host Stony Brook (26-6) reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time by coming from behind to beat Vermont 80-74. The Seawolves had reached this point four times in the past five seasons, including the past two years, and lost each time.

C-USA: Reggie Upshaw made two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to lift Middle Tennessee (24-9) to a 55-53 victory over Old Dominion in Birmingham, Ala., giving the Blue Raiders their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013.

BIG 12: Devonte Graham matched a career high with 27 points, Wayne Selden Jr. added 21 and top-ranked Kansas (30-4) overcame a remarkable performance by West Virginia's Devin Williams for an 81-71 victory over the ninth-ranked Mountaineers (26-8) in Kansas City, Mo. West Virginia had advanced with a 69-67 victory over sixth-ranked Oklahoma late Friday when Sooners star Buddy Hield's half-court shot that banked in was ruled a fraction of a second late.

MAC: Blake Hamilton made a 3-pointer with two seconds left as Buffalo (20-14) defended its conference title with a 64-61 win over Akron in the title game in Cleveland.

MEAC: Reginald Johnson Jr. had 21 points and eight assists as Hampton (20-10) beat South Carolina State 81-69 in Norfolk, Va., to win its second straight conference tournament.

MWC: Marvelle Harris scored 18 to lead Fresno State (25-9) to a 68-63 victory over San Diego State in Las Vegas, clinching its first NCAA berth since 2001.

SWAC: Adrian Rodgers made a jump shot with 17 seconds left to lift Southern University (22-12) to a 54-53 victory over Jackson State in Houston, clinching the Jaguars' first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013.

DIVISION II: Eckerd (25-7) fell 88-85 in overtime to Union (Tenn.) in the South Region quarterfinals in Huntsville, Ala. Roy Bullock hit a 3-pointer to open overtime, and the Bulldogs never trailed again. … Saint Leo (19-12) lost 98-81 to Alabama-Huntsville despite a career-high 31 points from Tyreece Brice.

LATE FRIDAY: Jakob Poeltl scored 29 and Lorenzo Bonam dribbled the length of the court to score at the buzzer in regulation, helping No. 12 Utah (26-7) outlast No. 24 California (23-10) 82-78 in overtime in the Pac-12 semifinals in Las Vegas. The Utes faced No. 8 Oregon late Saturday night for the conference tournament championship.

Comments
Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

TAMPA — The NFL is planning to suspend Winston three games for violating the personal conduct policy. He will be allowed to participate in training camp and all four preseason games.The suspension, which could be announced as early as...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's NHL draft, but that's not to say it couldn't be a busy weekend for Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part of a packag...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

The all-time NBA draft — the best pick from every slot

There’s a definitive answer every year to the question of who is No. 1 in the NBA draft. But who is the No. 1 pick of all No. 1 draft picks ever? Or No. 1 among the list of No. 2 draft picks? Those are questions that have no definitive answer, except...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Size of sea trout a welcome surprise in Pinellas grass beds

A nice surprise has been the quality size of the spotted sea trout on deeper grass beds in southern Pinellas. Typically, summertime trout tend to run smaller than the 16- to 20-inch trout we’ve been finding. Fishing the deep grass with scattered sand...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

Islanders hire Barry Trotz as coach fresh off winning Stanley Cup

DALLAS — The New York Islanders have hired Barry Trotz as their new head coach. President of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello announced the move Thursday at the NHL draft, two weeks after Trotz won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals and thr...
Updated: 3 hours ago
One last chance to see MF Marcel Schafer in a Rowdies uniform

One last chance to see MF Marcel Schafer in a Rowdies uniform

ST. PETERSBURG — Marcel Schafer's departure from the Rowdies was predetermined, with a major post awaiting back home in Germany. But the process sped up recently.As in, this is it. Rowdies fans who enjoy watching the midfielder had better get t...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

Lightning’s Victor Hedman salutes survivors in Norris Trophy acceptance speech

The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wedne...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 6 hours ago