NEW YORK (AP) Khadeen Carrington had 23 points and seven rebounds to lead Seton Hall to an 87-83 win over fifth-ranked Xavier for the Pirates’ first Big East Tournament title game appearance since 1993, 2 1/2 years before he was born.
Fellow sophomore Isaiah Whitehead added 20 points and eight assists in Friday’s semifinal as third-seeded Seton Hall beat the Musketeers for the second time in less than two weeks.
The Pirates face third-ranked Villanova in Saturday’s championship game.
Seton Hall led by as many as 17 points in the first half, beating the Musketeers to loose balls and converting steals into easy baskets. And when Xavier made a second-half run, Whitehead kept answering with big plays.
Angel Delgado scored 15 points for Seton Hall (24-8). Edmond Sumner led the second-seeded Musketeers (27-5) with 21 points.
With the score tied 13-13 just over seven minutes in, Derrick Gordon scored on two straight fast-break layups to spark a 21-4 Seton Hall run. After Carrington hit a jumper, the Pirates got two offensive rebounds on their next possession, with Michael Nzei slamming home the second. Moments later, Gordon’s steal led to a fast-break layup by Carrington, who then hit two consecutive 3-pointers.
Xavier went scoreless for three minutes during the spurt as Seton Hall, which is headed to its first NCAA Tournament in a decade, built a 34-17 lead.
Seton Hall scored 15 points off takeaways in the first half. The Musketeers had more turnovers (12) than field goals (nine) at the break.
Xavier had nine field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half and started to fluster the Pirates with its 1-3-1 zone. But the Musketeers never got within one possession thanks to Whitehead. He hit a 3-pointer after they pulled within five with more than 12 minutes left, and two possessions later, after Xavier had climbed within four, he spun through the lane for another clutch basket.
He then blocked the shot of Sean O’Mara, who is 6 inches taller, as Seton Hall started to pull back away, aided by missed four missed free throws by the Musketeers.
Xavier shot 8 of 30 on 3-pointers.
The Musketeers made a late run and had a chance to pull within four with 21 seconds left, but Kaiser Gates hit 1 of 2 free throws. They then nearly got a steal, but Gordon was able to corral the ball and was fouled.
Double technical fouls were twice called in the second half.
Seton Hall: Gordon, the Pirates’ lone senior, is their only player who was born before their last Big East final appearance. He had 10 points and three steals Friday. … Seton Hall had a whopping 25 turnovers but shot 51.8 percent from the field and held Xavier to 34.9 percent.
Xavier: Myles Davis went down hard when he got his layup blocked early in the second half, but he came back in after a brief rest. … Actor Bill Murray, whose son Luke is an assistant coach for the Musketeers, again sat behind the bench in an “X” cap. … Xavier was seeking to reach the final for the second straight season.
Seton Hall faces third-ranked Villanova in Saturday’s championship game.
Xavier appears headed to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.