NEW YORK (AP) – Alpha Diallo hit a go-ahead jumper with 2:22 left in overtime and fifth-seeded Providence rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit and stunned top-seeded and No. 3 Xavier 75-72 in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament on Friday night.
Kyron Cartwright hit a clutch jumper with 55 seconds to go and took an offensive foul on a layup attempt by J.P. Macura with eight seconds to play as the Friars (21-12) beat the Musketeers (28-5) for the second time in three games this season.
This one was totally unexpected after the opening 25 minutes at Madison Square Garden. The win sent Providence to the title game to be played Saturday evening against the second-seeded and No. 2 Villanova Wildcats, who beat the sixth-seeded Butler Bulldogs on Friday.
Cartwright’s jumper gave Providence a 73-70 lead, but Trevon Bluiett cut the margin to a point with two free throws with 41 seconds to go.
Isaiah Jackson missed a layup attempt with about 12 seconds to play and the Musketeers rushed the ball up court. Macura went to the rim but Cartwright stood his ground and drew the offensive foul call from referee Jeff Anderson.
Diallo added two free throws with six seconds to go, but Xavier never got off a final shot until the final buzzer when Kerem Kanter hit a shot.
By that time, Providence players were running on the court to celebrate at halfcourt.
Rodney Bullock, who blocked a game winning layup attempt by Macura at the end of regulation, and Diallo each had 17 points. Cartwright finished with 15 and Nate Watson, who was a monster in the lane in the second half, had 10 of his 14.
Kanter finished with 18 points for Xavier. Bluiett had 13 on 2 of 14 shooting. Freshman Paul Scruggs had a career-high 15 points on his birthday, including 13 in the first half when Xavier built a 14-points lead.
Providence, which is seeking its fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth, staged one of the best comebacks in Big East tournament history, rallying from a 17-point second-half deficit to tie the game three times in the final 3:45.
The last time came when Cartwright hit two free throws with 13 seconds to go to knot the score at 68.
After electing not to call a time out, Xavier rushed the ball up the foul and Macura’s layup attempt by blocked by Bullock just before the final horn.
The Friars had used 29-12 run to tie the game at 64-all on jumper by Bullock with 3:45 to play.
A 3-pointer by Macura with 14:45 had extended the Musketeers’ lead to 52-35.
NOTES: Celebrating his 65th birthday, Xavier President Fr. Michael Graham was at the game. … Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, who had hoped his third-seeded Pirates would be in the semifinals, was added Fox Sports pre-game show after the Pirates lost to Butler in the quarterfinals.
Providence: Will play in the title game against second-seeded and No. 2 Villanova on Saturday evening.
Xavier: Will probably get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Tournament Tweets – #MarchHoops
MARCH HOOPS: Eyewitness Sports is following PC and URI every step of the way with live team coverage. Mark Dondero will have live reports from Madison Square Garden where the Friars are playing in The Big East Tournament. Ruthie Polinsky will be in Washington, D.C. where the Rams are in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.