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Big East Tournament: Josh Hart heroics lift Villanova over Seton Hall, 55-53

Hart’s putback put the Wildcats in the Big East Championship game for the third straight year.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Seton Hall vs Villanova Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The nightmare half we’ve been dreading all season reared it’s ugly head in Friday’s semifinal match-up against the Seton Hall Pirates. While it may be good to have gotten that out of our system (vomit pun intended), it was beyond ugly to watch with the ‘Cats shooting a putrid 26% from the field (23% from deep) in the first half. It took over three and a half minutes for Villanova to hit their first field goal and they went into the half with just 20 points, their lowest total of the season.

Perhaps coming in with a 108 point hangover, the ‘Cats were outplayed by Seton Hall from the opening tip. Coming out of the half, the 'Cats weren't immediately sharper but slowly chipped away at the Pirate lead with the help of some solid defense. With 9:00minutes left in the second half, Jalen Brunson hit two quick jumpers followed by a Hart steal and a slam to give the 'Cats a 41-40 lead. The Pirates pulled ahead 44-41 just ahead of the under 8:00 timeout.

With just under 4:00 min left in the second half, Josh Hart hit a three to give ‘Nova a 2-point lead. With just over 30 seconds left, Josh Hart put back a missed Jenkins three-ball for an “+1" to give the ‘Cats a 54-53 lead. Hart hit the foul shot to give the ‘Cats a two-point lead. With 9 seconds left, Seton Hall had one final chance but couldn’t get the final bucket. The ‘Cats escaped with a 55-53 win.

We have often debated on this board whether a team actually learns from every loss or just certain losses. Well, here is a great chance for Villanova to learn from a win. My main takeaway from this game is that it’s difficult to beat a team if you don’t have any points. Jay Wright, a far more gifted tactician that I, undoubtedly made the same observation. Villanova can’t start a half shooting 23% against a team out for blood. While the ‘Cats escaped, let’s hope this gives the ‘Cats the extra focus they’ll need to get through March.