NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — As Quincy McKnight dribbled into the frontcourt in the waning seconds, a smile came across the face of the Seton Hall point guard and it wasn’t long before his teammates starting jumping around and hugging each other as if they had won a tournament game.
The Hall didn’t win anything other than a game against No. 16 Marquette on Wednesday, but the way the Pirates did it and what it meant was extraordinary.
Myles Powell scored 34 points and Seton Hall revived its NCAA Tournament hopes by scoring the final 18 points to beat the Golden Eagles 73-64 at the Prudential Center.
“We knew what was on the line,” said Powell, who added five rebounds and five assists in helping the Pirates (17-12, 8-9 Big East) end a three-game losing streak. “We knew the opportunity that we had tonight and we seized the moment.”
Powell had 10 straight points in the run, tying it at 64 with 2:55 to play and hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 left.
In handing Marquette (23-7, 12-5) its third straight loss, Seton Hall (17-12, 8-9 Big East) rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second half, holding the Golden Eagles scoreless in the final 4:40.
“That’s a big one, just because of where we are this time of year and how good of a team they are,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. “When you’re looking at Big East seedings and the Big East Tournament, and where everybody is, it’s so jumbled up that getting a win like this, it just helps enormously, especially as hard as these guys have been playing.”
Michael Nzei hit four free throws in the final minute and Jared Rhoden added two to ice the game for Seton Hall, which is looking for its fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth.
Sam Hauser led Marquette with 25 points, but the big thing was the Pirates’ defense on conference scoring leader Markus Howard. He came in averaging almost 26 points in league action and was limited to six on 2-of-11 shooting.
“A couple of bounces here and there didn’t go our way tonight,” Hauser said. “Credit Seton Hall. They made us work for every shot down the stretch, their defense is very, very good. Myles Powell is a great player and he hit some big shots down the stretch to help them get the win.”
Seton Hall trailed 59-46 after Hauser hit a shot midway through the half, but the Pirates outscored the Golden Eagles 27-5 the rest of the way.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said his team has played good opponents in losing to Villanova, Creighton and now the Hall. He also said every team is trying to make someone other than Howard beat them.
“I think our guys are really pressing,” the coach said. “I got a group in our locker room that really cares and wants to do some great things, but I think we are pressing. When you press, it has a tendency to lead to bad decisions or you put too much on a shot and I thought we really pressed.”
Despite committing 14 turnovers and getting only three points from Howard, the Golden Eagles led 37-31 at the half, thanks in large part to Hauser. He scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed seven boards, helping Marquette hold a 27-13 edge.
The Pirates’ problem in the half was Nzei picked up two early fouls with the second coming on a double technical when he and Theo John faced off after a basket.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles need Seton Hall to beat visiting Villanova on Saturday and win their game against Georgetown to share the regular-season conference title. If not, they will be the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament next week.
Seton Hall: The Pirates need another win or two to get in the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette: Close regular season at home against Georgetown on Saturday
Seton Hall: Close regular season at home against Villanova
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