Decades ago, the Big East was wed to a rep as the most physically punishing conference in the land. Saturday night’s conference semifinal between Seton Hall and Marquette turned into a renewal of vows at the Garden.
After a near-brawl, nine technical fouls, three ejections and 57 fouls, third-seeded Seton Hall beat the second-seeded and 23rd-ranked Golden Eagles, 81-79. before a sellout crowd of 19,812. Marquette’s Markus Howard missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I’ve never been part of a basketball game like that before,” said Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski, who clearly was hot about the officiating. “It’s unexplainable . . . I feel bad for my kids. They are in the [locker room] sobbing. I wish they’d had a chance to decide the game.”
Seton Hall (20-12) reached the championship round for the first time since 2016 and will play top-seeded and 25th-ranked Villanova at 6:35 p.m. Saturday. Seton Hall is 3-0 in Big East championship games.
Myles Powell had 22 points, Quincy McKnight added 18 and Michael Nzei had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pirates. Sam Hauser scored 22 points and Big East Player of the Year Howard had 21 despite 1-for-14 shooting for Marquette.
When Powell drove to the basket with just under 13 minutes left, he appeared to get pushed out of bounds by Marquette’s Theo John. Powell got up and stepped toward John, setting off a maelstrom of players, coaches and officials. At the end of an approximately eight-minute review, officials emerged with a written list of violations.
Marquette’s John and Sacar Anim were ejected for flagrant 2 fouls, as was Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili. Powell also was assessed a technical, and all on the Seton Hall bench, including coach Kevin Willard, believed he had been ejected. Head official James Breeding said the Pirates believed he had been ejected because of a flagrant foul in the first half but were told that “only two technical fouls, unsporting technical fouls, result in ejection.”
Assistant coach Duane Woodward retrieved the red-eyed Powell, who entered the game after a few minutes and scored eight of his points down the stretch.
“It was crazy, just to get called back to the game,” he said. “I felt like I’d let my teammates down. Them giving me a second chance, I really appreciate it . . . Once I hear, I’m wiping my tears [away].”
His three-pointers on consecutive possessions gave the Hall a 64-63 lead with 6:37 left that the Pirates would not relinquish.