Saturday, March 11, 2017

Big East Semifinals: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK -- The semifinals constitute the final four of the tournament.

Just as The Final Four participants enter full of hope and aspirations, the same can be said of the final four in any tournament.

On Friday evening, the mercury plummeted as Madison Square Garden heated up. Commuters made their way home as fans clad in blue (ironically, the color of all four teams) made their way through Penn Station and along Eighth Avenue en route to MSG.
In a few hours, it would all be over. We would have our two finalists set to battle for the Big East championship. Along the way, everyone would be treated to a thrilling night with a marriage of exhilaration and heartbreak.
Semifinals can sometimes give a close contest and a blowout. Not tonight. Both games were decided with seconds to go. The victors moved on, relieved and harboring a great deal of respect for the opposition just defeated.
Seton Hall led for most of the game against top seed Villanova. In the waning moments, Wildcat senior Josh Hart made a senior play, slipping inside for a deciding putback. Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado, who did so much for the Pirate cause, came up short on the other end seconds before the buzzer. Creighton pulled it out as Marcus Foster canned a long three with seconds remaining.
The scores; Villanova 55, Seton Hall 53 and Creighton 75, Xavier 72, may soon be forgotten. The heroics, intensity and possession-by-possession drama on this big stage will not escape the memory anytime soon.
This Big East semifinal night was indeed special. Fans of the victors basked in the glory of the moment. Those followers exiting the Garden and heading to Penn Station or other destinations,  who saw their favorites come up short, could take solace there would be another day. Another game, maybe more to play.

With the Big East taking center stage, the Empire State building recognized the Atlantic Coast Conference's tournament in Brooklyn, with former Big East member Syracuse's orange and blue in lights:
A capacity crowd for semifinal Friday at the Garden:
More than a few patrons in the concourse, still filing in:
Josh Hart shows the stress of a hard-fought win in the postgame press conference:
Xavier and Creighton in pregame warmups:
The Garden Market concession stand, open for business:
Big East Freshman of the Year Justin Patton sits down with FS1 after a semifinal win:
Xavier's Chris Mack and Quentin Goodin meet the media:
Creighton's team bus prepares to board a team now fighting for a championship:

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