Umoja Gibson made three clutch free throws and 10th-seeded DePaul survived a last-second officiating scare to stun seventh-seeded Seton Hall 66-65 and end a 12-game losing streak in the first round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday in New York.
Seton Hall choked away a 65-61 lead in the final seven seconds of the game. Jalen Terry made a layup to cut DePaul’s deficit to 65-63, the Blue Demons stole the inbounds pass and Gibson was fouled by KC Ndefo shooting a 3-pointer.
After Gibson sank all three foul shots, Femi Odukale had 3.9 seconds to race from coast to coast to attempt a winning layup. Nick Ongenda swatted the lofted shot at the buzzer and the referees initially called it goaltending, which would have awarded Seton Hall two points and the victory. After a review, they ruled Ongenda blocked the shot before it got close enough above the basket to be in danger of goaltending.
The Blue Demons (10-22) advanced to the next round to face second-seeded Xavier on Thursday night. The Pirates (17-15) watched their Big East tournament stay end in dramatic and disappointing fashion.
Javan Johnson scored a game-high 19 points for DePaul. Ongenda scored 15, Terry had 14 and shot 4-for-4 from 3-point range and Gibson added 10 points. Tyrese Samuel led Seton Hall with 16 points and 12 rebounds, Ndefo had 14 points and eight rebounds, Al-Amir Dawes scored 12 points and Jamir Harris added 10.
DePaul whittled a nine-point second-half deficit to two when Johnson sank his fifth 3-pointer of the night with 3:59 to go. Dawes knocked down a mid-range jumper and Samuel made two foul shots for a five-point lead at the one-minute mark, but Terry made a deep trey to cut it to 63-61 with 42 seconds left.
Neither team led by more than four during a tight first half. Ndefo, a career 18.7 percent 3-point shooter, made an open triple for a 21-20 Seton Hall lead with 8:33 remaining before the break. Neither team scored again for three minutes, until Ndefo stuffed a shot at one end of the floor and got free at the other end for another 3-pointer.
The Blue Demons closed the half on a 10-2 run bookended by 3-pointers from Gibson and Terry, forging a 32-28 halftime lead.
The Pirates were clinging to a 38-37 lead when Odukale lobbed up a baseline inbounds pass and Samuel dunked over a DePaul defender. That play thrilled the crowd and launched an 8-0 stretch that gave the Pirates their largest lead, 46-37.
Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers to end the Blue Demons’ 8:45 field goal drought and slice the deficit to three. Harris later made two free throws and drilled a corner 3-pointer falling down to make it 53-45 Pirates with 7:02 to play.
–Field Level Media