Georgetown upsets Big East top-seeded Villanova 72-71 at MSG

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NEW YORK — Patrick Ewing and Georgetown are making some noise at Madison Square Garden again.

It has been a while.

The Hoyas are back in the Big East Tournament semifinals for the first time in six years, with the former Georgetown and Knicks star leading the way.

Dante Harris made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to cap a perfect game from the line for Georgetown, and the Hoyas upset No. 14 Villanova 72-71 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

The eighth-seeded Hoyas (11-12) will play fifth-seeded Seton Hall on Friday night. Georgetown last reached the Big East semifinals in 2015. The Hoyas have not won the tournament since 2007.

“We took another step – in my house, by the way. This is my house,” Ewing said in a postgame television interview. “It’s a great win. Huge win.”

Before Ewing became a Hall of Fame center for the Knicks, his Georgetown teams in the mid-1980s were the beasts of the Big East. Villanova has taken over that role in recent years, winning the last three tournament titles and dominating the Hoyas in the process.

Villanova had won four straight meetings and 13 of 15 against the Hoyas before Thursday.

“We played against the Cadillac, the Bentley, whatever you want to call them, of the Big East – the class of the Big East. And once upon a time that was us. But we took a huge step to be able to knock them off,” Ewing said.

Harris led the way with 18 points and drew a foul on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl driving to the basket with 4.7 seconds to go and the Hoyas down one.

Harris rattled in the first and swished the second to make Georgetown 23 of 23 from the line, the first time a team has shot 100% on at least 20 attempts in the Big East Tournament.

With no timeouts left, Caleb Daniels rushed up court and got off a long 3-pointer in traffic for Villanova, but it missed badly. The top-seeded Wildcats (16-6), playing without injured star Collin Gillespie, had advanced to the Big East semifinals the last five times the tournament was completed.

Last year’s ended halfway through the noon quarterfinal, when the pandemic brought the college basketball season to a halt.

The quarterfinal day at the Garden is often the best of the Big East Tournament. The marathon quadruple-header keeps MSG buzzing from noon to midnight. Not this year.

With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, the Garden was mostly empty for an old-school Big East rivalry between Wildcats and Hoyas. Ewing’s booming voice echoed through the rafters. “Rebound! Rebound!” he shouted after just about every Villanova shot went up.

Each quarterfinal team was given 100 tickets to Thursday’s games. There were maybe a few dozen people in the stands for the noon tipoff. A “Let’s Go Nova!” chant didn’t last long or find many takers.

“It was pretty cool to have some fans in there,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Not a lot.”

COVID protocols even made it difficult for Ewing to move freely inside the Garden. He said he would have to ask Knicks owner James Dolan about the frequent stops to check his credentials.

“Everybody in this building should know who the hell I am,” Ewing said. “I was like, what the hell? Is this Madison Square Garden? I’m going to have to call Mr, Dolan and say, `Jeez, is my number in the rafters or what?”‘

MSG Entertainment released a statement saying Ewing and Dolan have a long-standing relationship and the two spoke later in the day.

“We all know, respect and appreciate what (Ewing) means to The Garden and New York. Good luck to him and his Hoyas in the Big East semifinals,” the statement said.

Robinson-Earl led the Wildcats with 26 points and Jermaine Samuels added 20.

The Wildcats went up 70-65 with 1:29 left on consecutive 3s by Cole Swider and Robinson-Earl.

Villanova couldn’t close. The Hoyas tied it when Qudus Wahab was fouled by Swider while dunking and completed the three-point play with 40 seconds left.

Robinson-Earl made one of two from the line to make it 71-70 with 18.2 seconds left, and Ewing called a timeout to put the ball in Harris’ hands.

“Down the stretch it got down to a one-possession game and they executed those last two possessions a little bit better than us,” Wright said. “We had a tough time controlling Harris.”


Georgetown: The Hoyas are 8-4 since a COVID-19 pause. They had not won even a single Big East Tournament game since 2016 before beating Marquette in the first round Wednesday.

Villanova: Playing its second game without Gillespie (knee), their senior point guard and co-conference player of the year, the Wildcats started Chris Arcidiacono – whose big brother Ryan led the Wildcats to a national title in 2016 – for the first time.

The sophomore contributed three points, five rebounds and four assists. Villanova did have third-leading Justin Moore (left ankle) available. He started the game on the sideline, riding a stationary bike, but ended up scoring 10 points in 27 minutes.


Villanova awaits its NCAA Tournament assignment.

Georgetown split two games against Seton Hall during the regular season.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.