When his season comes down to a controversial block at the buzzer, all the gains he’s made before seem insignificant.
Seton Hall, who played in the first season with former player Shaheen Holloway, ended up on the sour end of a call-up and his season ended with the Pirates wishing they had the last 10 seconds of a 66-65 first-round loss to DePaul. in the Big East tournament on Wednesday night at the Garden.
With 17 seconds left, Hall’s Jamir Harris gave the Pirates a two-possession lead, hitting two free throws to make it 65-61.
After Jalen Terry’s layup brought DePaul within 65-63 with 7.2 seconds remaining, the quick-thinking Terry stole the pass upfield and handed it to Umoja Gibson, who was fouled by KC Ndefo while he was shooting a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Gibson calmly sank all three shots, including one after Holloway called timeout to plot a game-winner, for DePaul’s first lead in 15 minutes at 66-65.
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Seton Hall’s Femi Okudale passed the ball to Tyrese Samuel before half-court and Samuel played it back to Okudale, who dribbled all the way to the glass, only for DePaul’s Nick Ongenda to block his layup at the buzzer on what many of the Seton Hall- great crowd thought was goaltending.
After a brief review, the officials ruled the block good and DePaul (10-22) got the upset.
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Coming off an impressive blowout win at Providence in the regular season finale, No. 7 seed Seton Hall looked the best to handily edge out No. 10 seed DePaul, a team the Pirates swept throughout the season.
But DePaul had other plans and will face Xavier (23-8), the second seed and 15th ranked, in the quarterfinals Thursday at 7 p.m.
After a transitional season and heavy roster turnover under Holloway, Seton Hall is left with a what-if at the Garden.
The tough-as-nails Blue Demons led a tight game for much of the first 25 minutes and saw the Pirates earn their way to the quarter-finals down the stretch.
Samuel finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Ndefo had 14 points for Seton Hall.
Javan Johnson had 19 points, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, and Ongenda added 15 points for DePaul.
After being down 34-28 early in the second half, Seton Hall went on an 18-3 run, sparked by 10 points from Al-Amir Dawes, to lead 46-37. DePaul, however, held his own with well-timed 3-pointers from Johnson to set up the frantic final moments.