NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Saddiq Bey scored 20 points and No. 14 Villanova overcame some late free-throw shooting woes to prevent No. 8 Seton Hall from clinching the Big East regular-season title with a 79-77 victory on Wednesday night.
Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels added 19 points apiece and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had nine points and 11 rebounds as the Wildcats (23-8, 12-5) opened the possibility of the league having a three-way tie for first place.
Collin Gillespie added 12 points for Villanova, which kept the game close by missing seven free throws in the final 1:03.
Sandro Mamukelashvili led Seton Hall (21-8, 13-4) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Quincy McKnight added 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists and Myles Powell had 14 points and eight assists in their final home game.
The Pirates rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit and had a chance to tie the game with 5 seconds left, but Powell’s 3-pointer bounced off the rim.
Samuels made 1 of 2 free throws with 3 seconds to play. Seton Hall rushed the ball up the court but didn’t get a shot off before the buzzer.
The win was the sixth in seven games for Villanova after a three-game losing streak.
Down 27-22 with five minutes left in the half, Villanova went on a 31-12 run over the next 12 minutes and opened a 43-39 lead with 14:20 to play. The Wildcats, who were 5 of 30 from long range in a loss to Providence over the weekend, made eight 3-pointers, including a four-point play by Bey.
The Pirates would not go away. Over the next five minutes, they made four 3-pointers, including two by Reynolds, and got within five points and eventually down to three and then the last two-point margin. They never tied the game.
Villanova: Can’t be the No. 1 seed in conference tournament. Can be No. 2 if Hall beats Creighton.
Seton Hall: The Pirates head into Saturday with a one-game lead over Villanova and No. 11 Creighton (23-8, 12-5), which beat Georgetown. They will win the title if they win at Creighton. If they lose and Nova beats Georgetown, it will be a three-way tie. Creighton would be the top seed in the tournament based on its sweeping the Hall and splitting with Wildcats. Hall would end up No. 3 seed for the tournament and Nova second.
The Pirates honored Powell, McKnight, Gill and Asiah Avent before their final home game. Avent got his first career start and was pulled after 5 seconds.
Villanova: Ends the regular season at Georgetown on Saturday.
Seton Hall: Finishes the regular season at No. 11 Creighton on Saturday.