Cuse To Face St. John’s After Controversial Finish
New York, NY (WIBX)- St. John's won yet again at home in Madison Square Garden to advance to the Big East Tournament quarterfinals beating in-state rival Rutgers. The way they won however, will be talked about for the entire Tournament. In a bizarre final minute of play, there were two key turnovers that were not called by the refs that decided the outcome. After taking a 1 point lead with less than a minute remaining St. John's stormed back to regain a 2 point lead with 4.9 seconds remaining. Then it got interesting.
On the inbounds pass from Rutgers to half-court, Rutgers F Gilvydas Biruta was clearly fouled and knocked down but no call was made. Justin Brownlee of St. John's recovered the basketball, traveled, ran out of bounds and threw the ball into the stands with 1.7 seconds remaining. Again no call was made and there would be no review. The head of NCAA officiating called the no calls "unacceptable" but the result will stand with St. John's winning 65-63. St. John's was led in scoring by Dwight Hardy with 17 points while Rutgers James Beatty led the team with 15. The win sends 5th seeded St. John's into the Big East Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 will they will play "host" to #4 seed Syracuse at 2pm on Thursday. Syracuse dominated their matchup earlier this year in the Garden 79-56.
In the only game of the day between ranked opponents, it was 9th seeded UCONN winning easily against 8th seeded Gerogetown 79-62. UCONN was led yet again by standout guard Kemba Walker who finished with 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, leading the team in all three categories. Jason Clark had 23 points and Austin Freeman added 20 for Georgetown, who have lost their last 4 games. Walker will hope to continue his great play as UCONN will play #1 seed Pitt at noon on Thursday. Pitt defated UCONN earlier in the year, 78-63.
In other action it was 7th seeded Cincinatti making easy work of surprise 15 seed South Florida 87-61. South Florida, who had shocked Villanova the previous night, could not pull off another upset, getting outscored by 18 in the second half. Yancey Gates shot 10 of 11 from the field and finished with a team high 25 points and Dion Dixon added another 21 for Cincinatti. South Florida was led by Augustus Gilchrist who finished with 15 points. Cincinatti has won 6 out of their last 7 games and will look to continue that streak when they face off against 2nd seeded Notre Dame at 7pm on Thursday. Notre Dame defeated Cincinatti in their only matchup earlier this year by a final of 66-58.
Marquette squared off against West Virginia in the final matchup of the night. Considered by most to be the final 2 teams to get into the NCAA Tournament from the Big East, it was 11th seeded Marquette winning in a close game against 6th seeded West Virginia 67-61, defeating them for the second time this season. Marquette, who was down by 7 at halftime, stepped up their defense in the second half, holding West Virginia to just 25 points. Marquette was led by Junior Cadougan with 15 points off of the bench while West Virginia's Kevin Jones led the team with 15 points. Marquette will face 3rd seeded Louisville in the quarterfinals at 9m Thursday night.