Half of the 16 BIG EAST teams were in action on Saturday. The road team won three of the four Saturday contests, while Notre Dame won at home to move to 16-0 at Purcell Pavilion this year. With less than a week remaining in the season, almost every BIG EAST team is still in contention for a bye in The BIG EAST Championship.
No. 20/17 Syracuse (24-6, 11-6) got 17 points and seven assists from guard Scoop Jardine, as the Orange beat No. 11/11 Georgetown 58-51 on the road. In front of the largest crowd to watch a Georgetown game at the Verizon Center this season, Syracuse held the Hoyas to 34.8 percent shooting from the field and won its fourth straight game. It was Syracuse’s sixth victory against a top-25 ranked team this season. Georgetown guard Chris Wright had his 93-game starting streak snapped due to a broken hand that he suffered against Cincinnati last week.
Georgetown (22-7, 10-7) trailed by 12 early in the second half, but used a 20-6 run to take a 45-43 lead following a layup by Nate Lubick. It was the team’s first lead since 25 seconds into the game. But the Hoyas would shoot just 1-of-12 the rest of the way as Syracuse took control. Austin Freeman led GU with 16 points.
Guard Dwight Hardy scored a career-high 34 points to lead the No. 23/25 Red Storm (19-9, 11-5) to their seventh-straight win as they got past No. 15/14 Villanova 81-68. With the road victory, St. John’s is assured of having its first winning record on the road in BIG EAST play since a 7-2 mark in 1988-89. It also was the sixth win for St. John’s over a top-15 opponent, the most by any team in Division I this season. St. John’s race to a 14-point lead in the opening minutes, then held on down the stretch to secure its first road win against a top-25 team since the Red Storm beat Duke in 2000.
Villanova closed to within one with four minutes to play, trailing 65-64 following a 3-pointer by Corey Stokes. Stokes led the Wildcats with 20 points. But St. John’s closed the game on a 16-4 run, with Hardy scoring six of those points to notch the win.
No. 9/9 Notre Dame (23-5, 12-4) moved to 16-0 at Purcell Pavilion with a 60-48 win over Seton Hall. The Irish remain in second place with the win, trailing Pitt by 1.5 games. Forward Tim Abromaitis led ND with 22 points, putting him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. Guard Ben Hansbrough added 21 points and has reached double figures in 11 straight games.
Seton Hall (11-17, 5-11) owned a 27-24 halftime lead, but a 13-0 run by Notre Dame early in the second half seemingly put the Irish in control. A rebound and put-back by Fuquan Edwin brought the Hall within one at 44-43 with six minutes remaining, by back-to-back three-point plays by Abromaitis and Scott Martin put the game away for ND. Seton Hall was led by Jeff Robinson’s 16 points. Jeremy Hazell added 14 for the Pirates and moved into third place on Seton Hall’s all-time scoring list with 2,067 for his career.
Forward Augustus Gilchrist scored a career-high 32 points to lead USF (8-20, 3-13) past DePaul 86-76 on the road. Gilchrist is the first Bulls player other than Dominique Jones to score 30 points in a game in the last five years. It was USF’s first road victory of the season, as the Bulls move to 1-11 in road games. Four Bulls scored in double figures, including Hugh Robertson, Shaun Noriega and Jarrid Famous, to help USF break a six-game losing streak.
DePaul (7-20, 1-14) was without leading scorer Cleveland Melvin, who missed the game with a thumb injury. Brandon Young led the Blue Demons with 23 points. The Blue Demons cut was once a 14-point deficit to two at 63-61 after Young made a layup with 9:02 left. But the Bulls regained control. Gilchrist converted a tip-in and Robertson made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 68-61.
The other half of the BIG EAST is in action on Sunday. Pittsburgh, the only team to clinch a bye to the quarterfinal round of the tournament, visits Louisville for a 2 p.m. game on CBS Sports. The Cardinals currently sit in fourth place in the standings and would strengthen their case for a double bye with a win against the Panthers.
Cincinnati and Connecticut are separated by a game in the standings, with the Bearcats occupying sixth place heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Huskies at Fifth Third Arena at noon on ESPNU. A Cincinnati win would keep the Bearcats in the hunt for a double bye, while a Connecticut win would forge at least a three-way tie — and possibly a five-way tie — for seventh place.
West Virginia is also tied for ninth heading into Sunday’s noon tip at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights look for a win in their final home game of the season, while the Mountaineers try to get a road win before closing with two straight home games.
Marquette hopes to ride the momentum from Thursday’s win at Connecticut as the Golden Eagles host Providence at 4 p.m. The Friars bring the BIG EAST’s leading scorer to Milwaukee as Marshon Brooks enters on the heels of a 52-point effort in a loss to Notre Dame Wednesday.