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NEW YORK (AP) – Villanova became the first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournaments, beating Seton Hall 74-72 on Saturday night behind seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth and key contributions from freshman Saddiq Bey.
Seton Hall star Myles Powell, guarded closely by Booth, missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that could have won it. Booth was called for traveling as he tried to corral the rebound, however, and the Pirates got one more chance with 0.4 seconds left. Anthony Nelson’s long inbounds pass bounced off the backboard and was slapped away by the Wildcats, who got to party on the Madison Square Garden floor yet again.
The 25th-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats (25-9) were in the Big East final for a fifth straight year, and have won four of the last five championships. The only loss during that span was to Seton Hall in 2016, and Powell and the third-seeded Pirates (20-13) gave Villanova all it could handle once again.
Powell scored 25 points to cap a spectacular three days at Madison Square Garden for the high-scoring guard.
Paschall had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Booth scored 16 points and was selected most outstanding player of the tournament. Bey, who Villanova fans hope will lead the next wave of championship teams, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Villanova had a chance to seal it in the final 30 seconds but Paschall was called for a charge when he lowered his shoulder into Myles Cale with 24 seconds left. Powell quickly scored inside at the other end to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 73-72 with 15.5 seconds left.
The Pirates sent Paschall to the line with 13.7 seconds remaining and he made the first and missed the second. Seton Hall rebounded and called a timeout to set up a final play with 8.9 seconds left.
Seton Hall: The Pirates are headed to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, matching a school best (1991-94).
Villanova: The defending national champions will be in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season, but will probably be seeded worse than a 2 for the first time since 2013.
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