Ten seconds left, with Seton Hall down two and with the ball, Angel Delgado was fed down low.
He put it on the glass, and the shot bounced off the basket. Delgado couldn’t get the rebound, and Seton Hall fell 55-53 to Villanova in the Big East semifinals. After leading for more than 34 minutes, Seton Hall failed to secure the win on Friday.
Immediately, Delgado was face-down on the court, inconsolable. With all of his teammates trying to pick Delgado back up, a different face approached the group to talk to Delgado: Josh Hart.
Minutes earlier he had won the game for Villanova. Now, he was making sure Delgado was okay.
“They’re tough, physical and very well-coached,” Hart said about Seton Hall. “And I told Angel you’re a heck of a player and just keep going, you’ve got a bright future.”
After the game, the emotions for Delgado still didn’t let up.
“This is the first time feeling like this in my life,” Delgado said, visibly upset. “I can tell you this, we’re about to work harder than ever now, cause I don’t like this feeling.”
Seton Hall set the tone in the first half. The Pirates held Villanova to 26.9 percent shooting from the field. SHU was forcing Villanova into settling for three-pointers, with the Wildcats going just 3-13 from distance in the first half.
Villanova’s 20 first-half points were the lowest total of any half for the team this season.
“We were poor in the first half,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “And we weren’t that bad defensively. Offensively we were just terrible, and just not playing the way we like to play.”
Myles Powell was a big part of Seton Hall’s surge in the first half, including the team’s 13-2 run. He finished with 11 points, 3-6 from three.
While he cooled down in the second half, Desi Rodriguez heated up. The junior put up a team-high 14 points, and largely kept Seton Hall in the game as Villanova crept closer to the lead.
In what seemed was an inevitable circumstance, Villanova came all the way back to take the lead. Shots started falling, and Hart led the team.
Down the stretch, Seton Hall and Villanova traded buckets. After a Carrington and-1, a Delgado offensive foul and a Villanova turnover, Seton Hall held a one-point lead.
It was then when Hart followed a missed shot to draw an and-1 that would win the game for the Wildcats.
When Hart approached Delgado after the game, he let him know that he’s been in his shoes before.
“We felt this feeling last year,” Hart said, referencing Seton Hall’s win over Villanova in the 2016 Big East Tournament. “And I said you have this feeling right now. NCAA Tournament time, don’t have this feeling again.”
For Delgado, the result stings, but he has confidence in his team going into the NCAA Tournament.
“You’ve just got to bounce back. We always do,” Delgado said. “We’re the type of team that we bounce back. I think we can be really good in the Tournament, I think we can make a run and everything will be good.”
Head coach Kevin Willard has reflected that sentiment all season.
“We’ll bounce back. We’ll fight back. It’s who we are. It’s what we’ve done,” Willard said.
Seton Hall finds out who and where it will play in the NCAA Tournament during the selection show Sunday at 6 p.m.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.