NEW YORK (AP) — Madison Square Garden is bringing out the best in Seton Hall.
Myles Powell scored 17 points and capped a 17-2 second-half spurt with an unusual 3-pointer as defending champion Seton Hall continued its impressive play in the Big Apple an 82-76 win over Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on Thursday.
The win was the eighth in 10 games for the fifth-seeded Pirates (21-10), and their sixth in the last seven games in this building, highlighted by last year's unexpected run to the conference tournament championship.
"I think the biggest thing in the feeling this year is, I think these guys understand the excitement and the importance of the Big East Tournament," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "So I just think we've been battling for a good month and (I'm) proud of the way they're playing."
The road will definitely get a little tougher.
The win set up a semifinal matchup with second-ranked and top-seeded Villanova, which ripped St. John's 108-67. The Wildcats swept the Pirates this season, winning by an average of 26 points.
"It's like waking up on Christmas you're all excited, you go down, you open up the present and you've got a bunch of coal," Willard quipped. "No, they're a fantastic team. They really are."
Angel Delgado overcame two early fouls and finished with 12 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists — his 13th consecutive double-double, and his 26th overall. Khadeen Carrington added 19 points, clinching the win with 10 free throws in the final 1:21. Madison Jones added 13 and Desi Rodriguez had 11.
Andrew Rowsey had 23 points to lead fourth-seeded Marquette (19-12), which is looking for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013. Markus Howard hit some late 3-pointers to finish with 16 and Katin Reinhardt had 12 points.
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said Seton Hall is a tough matchup for his team, which was outscored 40-12 in the paint.
"I'm not sure there's a more physical team in our league," he said. "And Delgado is just an absolute beast. And you look at, when you say, well, he only had 12 points. He had nine assists. To me he was the guy who dominated the game."
The first half ended tied at 35 and it didn't take the Pirates long to take control.
Trailing 42-39, Delgado scored in the low post and Jones added a layup on a fast break to ignite the big run that featured five points apiece by Powell and Rodriguez.
A drive by Rodriguez put Seton Hall ahead 51-42 with 12:12 to go, and after Reinhardt scored, Rodriguez added a basket and Powell capped the run with a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 56-44 edge. The basket was not your ordinary 3-pointer. It hit off the rim, bounced high, hit near the top of the backboard and fell back in to the groans of the Marquette fans.
It put a big smile on Powell's face and he ran up the court, windmilling his arm to celebrate.
"After I hit that three, that was our largest lead of the game and then we never gave it back from there," Powell said. "So after that 3, we had the momentum and we punched them in the throat and we kept the lead."
Seton Hall: This is another good win for the surging Pirates and there should be no doubt they will get an NCAA bid on Sunday.
Marquette: While 19 wins isn't 20, the Golden Eagles had a good season, finishing 10-8 in a tough conference with a win over Nova, the defending national champions. They probably will get back to the dance.
"We're hoping so," Rowsey said. "Nothing is guaranteed at this point. We can just hope for the best. In my opinion I believe we've done enough. We've proved ourselves multiple times. And I mean nothing is guaranteed at this point in the year, so we'll just have to wait and see."
Seton Hall: Will face Villanova in Friday's semifinals.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles watch television on Sunday and wait.