Big East takeaways: ‘I knew it wasn’t a goaltend.’ Wild finish lifts DePaul

Note: John Fanta is sharing information on the action throughout the Big East tournament.

Game 2: DePaul 66, Seton Hall 65

NEW YORK – The capacity crowd inside Madison Square Garden collectively rose to its feet Wednesday evening … in the final minute of a 7-10 Big East Tournament first-round game between Seton Hall and DePaul.

And if that doesn’t sum up the level of absurdity this tournament can deliver, nothing will. There was a standing ovation for the Blue Demons, who delivered the signature moment of the Tony Stubblefield era so far with a stunning 66-65 win over the Pirates to advance to Thursday night’s quarterfinal matchup with Xavier at 7 pm ET on FS1.

After two Jamir Harris free throws, Jalen Terry ran for four to put the Pirates ahead with 17 seconds left. Later innings, Seton Hall gave it away at half court, leading to a quick 3-point attempt by Umoja Gibson who was fouled with just over three seconds on the clock. Gibson drilled the three at the line to make it 66-65 Blue Demons, giving Seton Hall time to get to the rim. Here’s where things got crazy: Femi Odukale went full steam to the basket, driving the length of the floor and putting up a floater at the buzzer that Nick Ongenda called the goaltender.

One note: the refs calling it a goalie on the ground gives them the ability to review the play, which is exactly what they did. What was Ongenda thinking during the referee’s review with the game on the line?

DePaul wins with impressive goalie save

DePaul wins with impressive goalie save

Blue Demons beat Seton Hall in thrilling finish.

“I knew I wasn’t a goalie,” Ongenda said. “I’m not trying to be cocky, but I was totally confident that I blocked that shot.”

Ongenda was right.

The refs turned from the scorer’s table to signal the block was clean, leading to the PA announcement of the reversal and total pandemonium at MSG for the 10th-seeded Blue Demons .

With the win, they snapped a 12-game losing streak that sent them to the bottom of the barrel in the Big East.

“We have a saying in our program: Find a way,” Stubblefield said. “I give our kids a ton of credit because they never stopped fighting. They never gave up and we never stopped competing tonight. And for a guy like Nick, to go through what he’s been through, to take a step like that. really special.”

This is the story of the Blue Demons’ victory: Ongenda’s journey. He missed 25 games this year with a broken wrist. The 6-foot-11 junior was playing in just his seventh game of the season and had the biggest game DePaul has had in two years, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second half and adding four blocks.

The other side of the result is heartbreak for Shaheen Holloway and Seton Hall, who fell to a disappointing 17-15 after entering February on the bubble. Holloway revealed after the game that the Pirates would accept an invitation to the NIT.

Up next for DePaul: Sean Miller’s Musketeers on Thursday night. Notably, the teams split their regular season series.

Game 1: St. John’s 76, Butler 63

The St. John’s Red Storm was already the most talented team going into this game. Add that to a 14-18 Butler team missing two starters, Manny Bates and Eric Hunter Jr., who didn’t make the trip to New York for failing to meet academic standards, and the Johnnies cruised to a 13-point victory . the opening game of the Big East Tournament. They will meet top-seeded Marquette on Thursday at noon ET on FS1.

The Red Storm’s winning formula was familiar, with senior big man Joel Soriano posting a national-leading 24th double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. In all, five players scored in double figures, with freshman AJ Storm scoring 15 points and junior guard Posh Alexander scoring 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the process.

While Butler cut the deficit to 10 with 7:58 on the clock, back-to-back buckets by Soriano and Dylan Addae-Wusu for the Red Storm erased any doubt.

For the head coach of St. John’s Mike Anderson, who has gone four years without an NCAA Tournament appearance except for a run this week, is in a critical week as rumors swirl about his future in Queens.

Posh Alexander talks about St John’s win

Posh Alexander talks about St John's win

“I thank Joel Soriano for bringing his talent to San Juan.” — Posh Alexander talks about the Red Storm’s win over Butler in the Big East Tournament.

“Right now for us, it’s survival and moving forward,” Anderson said. “Today is about bringing energy and focus to the Big East Tournament, and you never know exactly how your team is going to handle this stage, but we came out well and got contributions at all levels.”

For Butler, after all the buzz surrounding the hiring of Thad Matta upon his return to college basketball, his first season at Butler was a disappointment and ended with a bang. The Bulldogs finished 14-18 and never found an offensive identity. Offseason roster changes are coming to Indianapolis.

For St. John’s, the focal point of Thursday’s matchup with Marquette is the defensive end. In both losses to the Golden Eagles in the regular season, the Red Storm allowed 96 points. These two teams met just four days ago, and the Golden Eagles escaped with a 96-94 victory. Could we see some drama in Round III? It’s on the table.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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