NEW YORK — Sterling Gibbs hit a step-back jumper at the buzzer and Seton Hall stunned No. 3 Villanova 64-63 in a thrilling Big East quarterfinal Thursday, a loss that could cost the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Eugene Teague had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth-seeded Pirates (17-16), who advanced to the Big East tournament semifinals for the first time in 13 years. They will play St. John’s or Providence on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Josh Hart came off the bench and scored 18 to lead the top-seeded Wildcats (28-4), beaten only twice in 18 regular-season conference games while winning their first outright Big East title since 1982. Both losses were blowouts by Doug McDermott and Creighton.
Patrik Auda scored all 13 of his points in the first half for Seton Hall, a 101/2-point underdog. But the Pirates, accustomed to playing close games, built a 15-point lead and recovered after Villanova spurted past them with a 16-0 run in the second half.
Villanova took a 63-62 lead on Darrun Hilliard’s floater in the lane with 7.8 seconds to go. Seton Hall pushed the ball past halfcourt, then called timeout with 3.7 seconds left
Jaren Sina inbounded to Gibbs, who backed off Hilliard with a hard step back and drained a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key just as the horn sounded.
A fired-up Gibbs jumped onto the scorer’s table and looked up at the crowd as excited Pirates teammates ran all over the court in celebration.
Villanova won both regular-season meetings, by an average of 16.5 points, and figured to have an advantage again after Seton Hall held off Butler 51-50 in the opening round Wednesday night.
Early on, it was the Pirates who looked fresh.
On a bitterly cold day in the Big Apple, the Wildcats took a while to warm up. They missed 13 of their first 14 attempts from 3-point range and trailed 44-31 with 14 minutes remaining. But they made a flurry of steals during a 16-0 run and took their first lead on Hilliard’s 3-pointer with 8:03 left.
With the score tied at 59, Ryan Arcidiacono’s steal sent Villanova on a fast break that culminated in Hart’s layup with 40 seconds left.
Undeterred, the Pirates worked the ball around before Sina nailed a 3 from the left corner for a 62-61 edge with 17.2 seconds remaining.