NEW YORK — Jamir Harris took a pass from Jared Rhoden several feet behind the arc and let loose on a 3-pointer.
The ball swished through the net with 40 seconds remaining giving Seton Hall a two-point lead on Georgetown.
After trailing by 10 in the first half, the Pirates came back to avoid a disastrous loss and win their sixth straight by defeating the Hoyas, 57-53, in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden before an announced crowd of 17,163. The game ended after midnight Thursday.
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Georgetown had another chance with the ball after the Harris three but Donald Carey threw the ball away while driving to the basket and trying to kick it into the backcourt.
“It feels amazing,” Harris said of his game-winning three. “Just to be able to knock down that shot for my teammates and my brothers, no better feeling than that.”
Jared Rhoden finished with 17 points, hitting two foul shots with 2.9 seconds left to ice it. Myles Cale scored 14 points and Harris nine for No. 6 Seton Hall (21-9), which will face No. 3 UConn in the quarterfinals Thursday at 9:30 pm ET. The teams split two games this season, each winning on its home court.
Georgetown ended it season by losing 21 straight games — going 0-19 in the Big East to set a new league record for futility– with their last win coming Dec. 15. They are the first Big East defending champion to lose their first game since West Virginia in 2011.
Georgetown athletic director Lou Reed last week gave Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing a vote of confidence and said he will coach next season, but some columnists in the DC area believe the school should fire the former Knicks legend.
“I told them I’m proud of their effort and we just gotta re-group,” Ewing said.
“I know we will be better next year, and that’s it,” he added.
The Pirates were a projected 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament by several bracketologists entering Wednesday and can try to improve their seed with a wIn over UConn.
Kadary Richmond started after exiting Saturday’s season-finale against Creighton with a right thumb injury and gave the Pirates nine points in the first half but barely played in the second, sitting on the bench in a long sleeve.
“Kadary’s doing OK,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. “I took him out. He had given us a lot for what he’s been going through. I didn’t want him to not be able to play maybe [Thursday] and definitely next week.”
Georgetown took a 27-24 halftime lead after leading by as many as 10 points in the first half. Cale had 10 points at the break and Richmond nine.
The Hoyas used a 7-0 run to go ahead 46-42.
The Pirates used a 6-0 run to go ahead 52-50 on a block by Rhoden and a breakaway dunk by Alexis Yetna (five points, 11 rebounds).
Aminu Mohammed made 1-of-2 foul shots to cut the lead to 52-51.
A driving layup by Collin Holloway put Georgetown up 53-52 with 1:05 left.
After Harris’ 3-pointer, Yetna missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Rhoden hit his two foul shots to ice it.
Seton Hall improved to 12-9 all-time at the Big East Tournament under Willard with five semifinal appearances, two trips to the finals and the 2016 tournament championship.
Seton Hall is 19-12 at Madison Square Garden under Willard and 16-8 since 2013-14.
After going 3-5 in January, the Pirates are a combined 9-2 in the months of February and March.
“Being from Jersey, I always have a chip on my shoulder and coming back to the Garden it’s really full circle for me,” Harris said. “My freshman year at Minnesota we had the Big Ten tournament here at the Garden. So to come back here, it’s full circle.”
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Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter who covers Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism