Madison Square Garden—Shaheen Holloway preached all year long about playing sixty-minutes of basketball and not having any mental lapses at the end of the game. The Pirates had a few of them in the waning minutes of the game that cost them the contest.
Umoja Gibson hit three free throws with 3.9 seconds left on the clock and Nick Ongenda rose up and blocked Femi Odukale shot at the buzzer to give DePaul a 66-65 win over the Seton Hall Pirates on Wednesday in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
Odukale went the length of the court, and Ongenda rose up from the rafters to block his shot at the buzzer. But the call on the floor was goaltending, which would’ve giving the Pirates a victory.
Upon review, however, it was called a block, and 10th-seeded DePaul had a crazy win to under their belt.
“I knew it was a block for real,” Ongenda said after the Blue Demons snapped a 12-game losing streak. “I didn’t really have to wait for the review.”
Tyrese Samuel led Seton Hall, who were without point guard Kadary Richmond (back injury), with 16 points and 12 boards. Ndefo chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds. JaJuan Johnson had 19 for the Blue Demons (10-22), who won for the first time since Jan. 18.
Seton Hall (17-15), the seventh seed blew a nine-point second-half lead and a five-point advantage in the last minute of the contest. Holloway in his first season as Seton Hall’s coach a year, he led Saint Peter’s on a majestic Elite Eight run in the 2022 NCAA Tournament but couldn’t produce the same magical formula for the Pirates this year.
“It sucks,” Holloway said. “It sucks for the seniors, sucks for the guys who don’t have any eligibility left.”
Seton Hall started the second half with more energy and put together an 18-3 run to go up 46-37 after Dre Davis’ basket with 10:41 to go in the game. The Pirates couldn’t put the Blue Demons away and will now have to hope for that they get NIT invite.
The Pirates shot themselves in the foot. They missed seven of 18 free throws and committed 14 turnovers, two in the final few seconds of the game.
“And we got a veteran ball team,” Holloway said. “This is unacceptable for me because we work on this all the time.”
JaJuan Johnson scored 19 for the Blue Demons (10-22), who won for the first time since Jan. 18.
Seton Hall’s season is likely to continue with an NIT bid, probably on the road.
DePaul will meet No. 2 seed Xavier in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m.