Big East Conference Tournament Recaps
(Thursday, March 14th)
Final Score: (5) Georgetown 62, Cincinnati 43
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Otto Porter scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, leading fifth-ranked Georgetown to a 62-43 victory over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Markel Starks added 14 points and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera chipped in 13 for the Hoyas (25-5), who shared the regular-season Big East title with Louisville and Marquette but earned the tournament's top seed.
Porter, the Big East's Player of the Year, made only 3-of-9 shots from the field, but canned each of his 11 free throws to lead Georgetown into the semifinals. The Hoyas, who improved to 15-1 as the Big East's top seed, will next face Syracuse in Friday's semifinal.
"A lot of teams are starting to key in on (Porter) more, and I think more of the strategy for them is to try to stop him and kind of worry less about the other guys on our team," said Smith-Rivera. "Guys like Nate (Lubick), Markel, myself, we're starting to get going."
Cincinnati (22-11) reached the conference tournament final last year for the first time since joining the Big East, falling to Louisville, and will now have to await its NCAA Tournament fate. The Bearcats stumbled down the stretch with a 3-6 mark in their final nine regular-season games before beating Providence in the second round on Wednesday.
Cashmere Wright scored 14 points and JaQuon Parker added 12 for Cincinnati on Thursday, as the Bearcats endured a couple of ugly scoring droughts against the tough Georgetown defense. Sean Kilpatrick, the team's leading scorer at 17.3 points per game, made just 2-of-12 shots and finished with four points.
"Obviously, we struggled to score the basketball," said Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. "We just really struggled on offense. Obviously (Kilpatrick) didn't have a great game for him."
Cincinnati battled back from a 16-point first-half deficit and had a 33-31 lead early in the second half on a basket by Wright. Georgetown followed with an 11-2 run and held the advantage the rest of the way.
Smith-Rivera broke a 33-33 tie with a three and followed with another bucket on the next Hoyas trip. A layup by Cincinnati's Chiekh Mbodj briefly interrupted the surge, but baskets by Porter and Starks then gave Georgetown a 42-35 edge with 12 1/2 minutes remaining.
"I want to say the first three, four possessions of the second half, we looked extremely flat," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III. "But then we turned it up at the defense. We started getting stops, which then helped our offense."
The Bearcats got only as close as five from there and the Hoyas were able to expand their lead as Cincinnati converted only two baskets in the next nine minutes. Two free throws from Porter made it 53-39 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
Porter added six more from the stripe down the stretch to help seal it.
Cincinnati started the contest ice cold, making just 1-of-9 from the floor. After Parker's three gave the Bearcats a 4-3 lead, the Hoyas responded with 21 of the next 25 points.
Jabil Trawick scored nine during the surge and back-to-back threes by Porter and Smith-Rivera gave Georgetown a 24-8 cushion with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The Bearcats, though, clawed back and trailed just 29-24 at the break, then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to grab the lead.
Georgetown earned a 62-55 victory in the lone regular-season meeting with Cincinnati and leads the all-time series, 8-5 ... The Hoyas are trying for their first Big East tourney title since 2007 and their eighth overall crown, which would snap a tie with Connecticut. The Huskies are ineligible for this year's tournament ... Georgetown's only loss as the No. 1 seed came in the 2010 final against West Virginia ... Trawick finished with nine points.
Final Score: (19) Syracuse 62, (17) Pittsburgh 59
New York, NY (Sports Network) - James Southerland had another sensational shooting performance and No. 19 Syracuse held on for a 62-59 decision to send 17th-ranked Pittsburgh home from the Big East Tournament for the last time.
After making 6-of-9 from long distance in their second-round win over Seton Hall, Southerland converted all six of his 3-pointers en route to 20 points on Thursday for the Orange (25-8), who will take on top-seeded Georgetown for the third time this season in Friday's semifinal.
"Pittsburgh is a tremendous defensive team," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "We just had great ball movement. Got the open guys, and James just got -- he got good looks, and he made them."
Michael Carter-Williams added clutch free throws down the stretch to tally 11 points with seven assists and recorded his third steal late in the game to seal the victory for Syracuse, which received 13 and 12 points, respectively, from C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche.
The Panthers (24-8), along with the Orange, are bolting for the Atlantic Coast Conference at the start of the 2013-14 season and shot just 37.5 percent in their Big East Tournament finale.
Lamar Peterson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Tray Woodall scored 12 and both James Robinson and Talib Zanna had 10 points in defeat.
Syracuse, a 32 percent shooting team from 3-point range during the regular season, shot at least 60 percent for the second consecutive day to pace its offense -- drilling 12-of-19 shots from long distance -- however Pitt found itself in good position late in the contest.
The Panthers had trailed by 13 at the break, but were within 58-55 with 1:15 remaining after Woodall capitalized on three-point play opportunity, which Southerland caused by goaltending on his running jumper.
Fair missed at the other end for Syracuse and Zanna had a chance to tie the game after drawing a foul on his putback, but he missed the free throw.
Carter-Williams then made a pair of free throws to increase the Orange's lead to three, and after picking off a Robinson pass, he sank two more from the stripe to put the contest out of reach.
Southerland buried his fourth and fifth triples in the final three minutes of the first half to spark an 11-4 run, which sent the Orange into halftime with a 40-27 lead.
"Simply put, our transition defense wasn't good in the first half, and that's how he got open looks," said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon. "When he got matched up on different guys, our 5 was guarding him on the one play."
Woodall, however, made two from beyond the arc during a 9-3 push to get the Panthers within four at the 8:39 mark and back-to-back scores from Patterson and Zanna 4 1/2 minutes later had Pitt trailing 55-51.
Southerland set a Big East Tournament record with the most 3-pointers without a miss ... Pittsburgh had won its last four contests coming into the tournament ... The Panthers defeated Syracuse in their only regular season matchup, but Southerland was serving a six-game suspension for an academic issue and did not play ... Pittsburgh has dropped five of its last six postseason games at Madison Square Garden since winning the Big East Tournament in 2008.
Final Score: (4) Louisville 74, Villanova 55
New York, NY (Sports Network) - The reigning Big East Tournament champions began their title defense in typical fashion Thursday, as No. 4 Louisville used its stout defensive prowess to shut down Villanova, 74-55, in quarterfinal action at Madison Square Garden.
The Cardinals (27-5) earned a share of the Big East regular season title based largely on its ability to wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball. They did just that against the Wildcats, forcing 25 turnovers and holding their opponent to 39 percent shooting.
"We were just very intense. We were really quick," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said of his defense. "We keep a chart that, if we get 35 to 40 deflections and we don't give up an inordinate amount of threes, we're going to win a number of games. ... We had 58 tonight."
Russ Smith paced the offense with 28 points behind four 3-pointers, while Luke Hancock and Peyton Siva added 12 and 10 points, respectively, for second- seeded Louisville, which next plays Notre Dame in a rematch of last month's five-overtime thriller won by the Fighting Irish.
Villanova, one of the many teams on the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble, won the only regular season meeting between the teams, but the seventh-seeded Wildcats (20-13) were unable to duplicate the balanced attack they had in Wednesday's win over St. John's.
JayVaughn Pinkston scored 21 points, and Mouphtaou Yarou finished with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in the loss.
"The game was allowed to be played very physical," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "We just did not respond to the physical play. That's what happens, you turn the ball over like that."
It was a hectic first three minutes of play with each team committing five turnovers. While the Cardinals cleaned up most of their mistakes, Villanova continued its sloppy play.
The Wildcats turned it over on five straight trips during an early 9-0 run that ended in a Hancock layup for 15-6 Louisville lead. The margin was cut to three late in the first half before Siva and Smith connected on 3-pointers during an eight-point surge, which staked the Cardinals to a 30-19 advantage with under two minutes remaining.
Louisville forced 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes -- essentially its season average for an entire game in the regular season -- and went into the break with a 30-21 cushion.
Villanova limited its turnovers after the break, but still couldn't solve the Cardinals' defense, missing eight straight shots at one point -- five on one possession alone -- and fell behind, 46-28 following a Smith 3-pointer with under 13 minutes to play.
The closest the margin got from there was a dozen as Louisville cruised to its eighth straight victory.
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, was in attendance ... Louisville finished with 19 turnovers, but shot a solid 44 percent from the field and 10-of-24 from behind the arc ... Villanova star freshman Ryan Arcidiacono netted three points on 1-of-8 shooting. He came in averaging over 12 points per game ... The Wildcats only connected on 2-of-12 shots from behind the arc in their matching their season low scoring output.
Final Score: (24) Notre Dame 73, (12) Marquette 65
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Pat Connaughton has found his range at Madison Square Garden, as Notre Dame's sharpshooter drained six 3-pointers for the second straight night to help the 24th-ranked Fighting Irish down 12th-ranked Marquette, 73-65, in quarterfinal action of the Big East Tournament.
Connaughton finished with 18 points, Jerian Grant added 17 and Garrick Sherman had 16 off the bench for Notre Dame (25-8), which started slow but recovered in time to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year.
"The game didn't start really well for us, but we fought back," Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said. "We made such big plays at key times, and everybody had a hand in it."
The sixth-seeded Irish will next play Louisville on Friday in the third meeting between the schools this season, one of which was a five-overtime thriller won by Notre Dame last month.
Marquette (23-8) went on a 6-1 stretch to finish the regular season tied atop the conference standings with Georgetown and Louisville, but failed to win in this event for the second consecutive year.
Jamil Wilson led the Golden Eagles with 16 points, while Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue netted 14 and 12, respectively, in the loss.
"We have to be a lot better than we were today," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said of his team's NCAA Tournament prospects. "This part of the season is over, but we need to learn from it and grow from it and then flush it out and begin to prepare for whoever we're going to play next week."
The second half featured 11 lead changes in the first 10 minutes, and it remained close until a Connaughton 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run that gave the Irish a 59-52 lead with 3:33 to play.
The Eagles pulled within five, 62-57, before another deep make by Connaughton provided some cushion. The outcome was decided by Notre Dame making 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch.
The Irish came out wearing neon green uniforms with a camouflage pattern, and their play over the first nine minutes was just as unsightly as they missed 15 of their first 17 shots.
They found themselves down, 17-4, following a Todd Mayo layup in transition before hitting their rhythm by scoring on five straight possessions.
Notre Dame ended the half on a 15-3 run -- sparked by Sherman's six points -- and went into the break holding a 29-25 advantage.
Marquette committed 16 turnovers to Notre Dame's seven ... Notre Dame's Jack Cooley was held to six points. The First-Team All-Big East forward has scored in double digits just once in his last five games.
03/15 01:36:34 ET