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March 14, 2019

The Shot That Almost Counted

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 about five minutes Eric Devendorf was a hero, before his shot to win the game in regulation was disqualified. "It was exhilarating," he says. "Then I had to get my focus back." (Photo: Dave Saffran/MSG Photos)

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.

 

That’s Phil Booth, the Villanova point guard, confronted with a swarming Providence defense. With just over three minutes remaining Providence was within just five points before Villanova pulled away for a 73-62 victory. (Photo: Dave Saffran/MSG Photos)


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