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Big East First Round Recap

March 11, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments




Big East Conference First Round Recap

Recap by Jim Woods

The first day of play at the 25th Anniversary Big East Tournament would not have won artistic points from the judges, but it certainly had its share of excitement. The outcome of every game was in doubt coming out of the last media timeout. The evening was capped by a battle between Villanova and Seton Hall that brought the remaining late night fans in the Garden to their feet for a thrilling ending. Let’s recap.

No. 8 Virginia Tech 61 vs. No. 9 Rutgers 58
Despite a flurry of Virginia Tech steals and Knight’s turnovers in the first half, Rutgers somehow managed to take a 35-27 halftime lead in the contest. Hokie leading scorer Bryant Matthews was a virtual non-factor on the offensive end, but his mates began to heat up in the second half and Tech turned the heat up defensively and took off on a 16-3 run. Tech maintained that lead for most of the second half, and then Rutgers freshman Marquis Webb knocked down consecutive three pointers to cut the Hokie lead to 3. Webb did not play like a freshman in his first Big East Tourney appearance. His leadership and toughness kept the Scarlet Knights in the game. Herve Lamizana, arguably the Knights most talented player, showed up in his “Enigma” mode and that spelt doom for Rutgers. Rutgers had a chance to tie this game on the final possession with a Calvin Wooten three-point attempt, but he came up with an airball from the corner. Coleman Collins led a balanced Hokie attack with 12 points. Webb finished the game with 19.

No. 5 Boston College 68 vs. No. 12 Georgetown 57
In a game that nearly put MSG to sleep and sent many fans sprinting to the exits, Boston College managed to survive a pesky Georgetown team that would not go away. The Hoyas packed in a 2-3 zone to try and limit the inside play of Craig Smith and Uka Agbai. The Hoyas played very well on the defensive end of the floor, however they could never develop any consistency on the offensive end. Every time they made a small run to get back into the game including cutting the lead to 4 at the 5:59 mark of the second half, they would go a couple of possessions without a basket. The Eagles also grew more comfortable against the Hoya zone as the game progressed and began to find cutters for easy baskets. Freshman guard Stevie Hailey did an excellent job of penetrating into the gaps of the Hoya zone and distributing the ball to open men on the blocks. Jermaine Watson ended all Hoya hopes by knocking down 10-12 free throws in the games final minutes. Smith finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Eagles. Ashanti Cook led the Hoyas with 13.

No. 7 Notre Dame 65 vs. No. 10 West Virginia 64
This contest began a bit slowly for both teams as they struggled to find their range from the field. West Virginia played the majority of the game in an extended 1-3-1 zone which seemed to give the Irish some problems early. However, the Mountaineers could not capitalize on their offensive end. After ten minutes of play the teams had only combined for twenty points and the Irish led 12-8. The last ten minutes of the half belonged to the Irish as they built an 11-point halftime lead. A quick second half start by the WVU allowed them to cut the lead to 5, yet they could not sustain their run. The Irish countered with an 11-0 run to push the lead up to 16 and the Mountaineers appeared to be in trouble. West Virginia refused to go away and began to get the ball to forward Kevin Pittsnogle who responded with eight quick points to get his team back in the game. Trailing by six 3:29 remaining, Patrick Beilein nailed back to back three pointers, including one from at least 27 feet which sent the crowd into a frenzy. Joe Herber followed these shots with a layup to finally give the Mountaineers the lead. After trading two foul shots by the Irish’s Chris Quinn and a layup by WVU’s Tyrone Sally, the stage was set for Irish freshman Colin Falls who does what does best and knocked down the game winning three from the corner. WVU had one more chance for the win, but Joe Herber’s three-point attempt fell short as time expired. Herber led WVU with 17, while Chris Thomas paced the Irish with 19.

No. 6 Seton Hall vs. No. 11 Villanova
After the conclusion of the previous game, you did not think the nightcap could live up. It certainly did, and then some. What this game lacked in offensive beauty it made up for in passion and intensity. Both teams went after each other in a game that looked more like a late 1980’s Big East game. In another game where points were at a premium early, Nova guard Allen Ray paced the Wildcat attack with 15 first half points. Seton Hall star guard Andre Barrett countered with 13 points of his own, yet Nova held a 34-32 advantage at half time. A quick run by Villanova to start the half pushed the lead to 8 at 40-32 with 18:40 remaining. That is as large as the lead would be the rest of the game as both teams battled back and forth trading pushes and shoves, turnovers, and baskets. At 5:33, the Pirates finally regained the lead 52-51 on two Kelly Whitney free throws. After trading a few more baskets over the next three minutes, Andre Sweet gave the Hall a 60-59 lead with 2:16 left. Villanova could not convert offensively for the next two possessions, but they were able to get stops on the defensive end. The Wildcats were forced to foul Pirate senior Marcus Toney-El with :16 seconds remaining as he had an open layup to the basket off a Wildcat turnover. Toney-El missed both free throws including a second shot airball. After a Nova timeout, Randy Foye decided he would have his Big East Tournament moment to remember. Foye drove off the left wing and put in a tough jumper in the lane with 3.9 seconds remaining. Seton Hall quickly inbounded to Barrett who was only able to get off a thirty footer on the run which grazed the rim, and sent Villanova on to the next round. Seton Hall will once again have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.

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