With Seton Hall leading 53-52 inside 15 seconds remaining in regulation, Josh Hart dished to Kris Jenkins. The hero from last season’s national championship game had another look at a deep three, but it caromed off the iron.
With the reputation Jenkins has, several Seton Hall players were caught ball watching, losing track of Big East Player of the Year Josh Hart in the process. Hart streaked to the basket for the putback lay-in, plus the foul.
Angel Delgado would have a point-blank range at a game-tying hook shot, but his shot was just off the mark, giving the Wildcats a hard-fought victory sending them to the the Big East Tournament championship game on Saturday evening.
Josh Hart scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds. Hart made a late push for national player of the year by making key plays on both ends of the floor. His steal, resulting to a fast break dunk, gave Villanova its first lead of the game with a little more than nine minutes remaining. The key plays continued as he gave the Wildcats a 48-46 lead off a 3-pointer from the wing. Then, he had the play of the game with a putback game-winner.
More importantly, Villanova remains the projected No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Since the relaunch, only Seton Hall had defeated the Wildcats in the conference tournament. Villanova now gets the chance to win its second Big East Tournament title in four years.
The Wildcats will play Creighton on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.