The 2019 Big East Tournament is heating up, with history hanging over the event. It’s been 10 years since an epic six-overtime game rocked Madison Square Garden. The almost hero was a Syracuse guard named Eric Devendorf, whose shooting touch nearly ended the marathon before it began.
For a few minutes Eric Devendorf owned The Garden. In the 2009 Big East Tournament, Devendorf, then a Syracuse senior, made what looked like a decisive 3-pointer at the end of regulation to break a tie against UConn in a quarterfinal matchup. He leaped atop the scorer’s table before falling into the embrace of his jubilant teammates. It was a celebration cut short. The officials, after a lengthy deliberation, ruled that the ball left Devendorf’s hand a split second after the clock had run out.
What followed then was epic and mind-bending — a whopping six overtime sessions in a game that ended at 1:24 a.m. For the record, Syracuse won with a final breathless surge, 127-117, but Devendorf’s shining moment was not obscured. “I had practiced that shot more in my head than in real life,” he says. “At The Garden, versus our rival, on national TV. Jumping on the table was out of pure emotion.”
By the time it was over, Devendorf had played 61 minutes. He found himself at 3 in the morning at a Manhattan diner before he returned to the hotel for an ice bath. Rest was fleeting. The next night he and his weary team won again, with this game taking one more overtime to decide.
Villanova A Step Closer
The Big East Tournament has a way of transforming The Garden, with play starting early and stretching into the night. On Thursday — the first full day of competition — the Villanova Wildcats took a first step toward carving out a new piece of Garden history. Trying to become the first team to win three straight titles, they defeated the Providence Friars, 73-62. The Xavier Musketeers then nudged past the Creighton Bluejays, 63-61, in a second matinee.
In the evening, the Marquette Golden Eagles dominated the Red Storm of St. John’s, with an 86-54 victory, followed by the Seton Hall Pirates defeating the Georgetown Hoyas, 73-57.
The results left the top four seeded teams to play in the semi-final round Friday evening. It will be No.1 Villanova playing No. 4 Xavier, and No. 2 Marquette against No. 3 Seton Hall.
About The Madison Square Garden Company
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) is a world leader in live sports and entertainment experiences. The company presents or hosts a broad array of premier events in its diverse collection of iconic venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, CA; and The Chicago Theatre. Other MSG properties include legendary sports franchises: the New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL); two development league teams – the Westchester Knicks (NBAGL) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL); and esports teams through Counter Logic Gaming, a leading North American esports organization, and Knicks Gaming, MSG’s NBA 2K League franchise. In addition, the Company features the popular original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces New England’s preeminent Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG umbrella is TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group with globally-recognized entertainment dining and nightlife brands: Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. More information is available at www.themadisonsquaregardencompany.com