NEW YORK, N.Y.--The farewell tour for the Big East as we know it began with one of the more bizarre games the tournament has ever seen.
From Seton Hall going eight plus minutes in the first half without scoring a single point yet only trailing at the half by three, to South Florida coughing up an eight point lead with 2:50 remaining in the game, this one truly saw it all.
While at times this game proved hard to watch, the finale seemingly made up for the poor play on both sides.
After a Fuquan Edwin made layup, Seton Hall trailed USF by only two points yet they needed to foul with the shot clock being off for the remainder of the tilt.
Instead, USF forward Victor Rudd awkwardly rushed the ball up the court while begin pursued by Seton Hall defenders and stepped out of bounds in the process, giving the Pirates a chance to tie the game.
Seton Hall took advantage of this lucky break as Fuquan Edwin stepped up again with a clutch layup after he had been shooting a poor 3-for-11 from the field to that point.
Edwin commented on how the last play was drawn up in the timeout before it took place.
“Coach asked in the huddle ‘Who wants the shot?’ And I told him I want it and I made a great move and that got my confidence going at the end of the game.”
With 3:36 remaining in overtime Seton Hall took their first lead since the 5:31 mark in the first half. After going ahead in the extra frame the Pirates never looked back as they held USF to two points in the final 4:22 of overtime.
“These guys have battled all year long,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Williard on his teams’ resiliency. “They gave themselves opportunities to stay in the game. That’s why I’ve been proud of these guys all year.”
South Florida didn't trail at any point in the second half, yet Seton Hall’s clutch plays late combine with sloppy mistakes from the Bulls led to the Pirates sneaking out an overtime win.
“That’s a tough way to finish our season,” said USF head coach Stan Heath III. “We gave the game away. We certainly had an opportunity to close it out in regulation and I think some of the wrong guys had the ball and some of the wrong decisions were being made.”
This game set a Big East tournament record for fewest points scored in regulation (74).
South Florida was an abysmal 5-for-26 from the three-point line and this cost the team toward the end of the game.
“We definitely took way too many three-point shots,” said Heath. “We’re not a great three-point shooting team, so I don’t know why we kind of went to that as our way to finish.”
South Florida forward Zach LeDay led the team in scoring with 11 points, as he played 44 of the possible 45 minutes in the contest.
USF finishes the season losing 10 of their last 12 games as Seton Hall advances to the second round of the Big East tournament as they take on the No. 5 seeded Syracuse Orange at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
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