NEW YORK — After the final buzzer sounded on Seton Hall’s heart-threatening 84-83 thrilling overtime upset of No. 9 Kentucky, the sights and sounds at Madison Square Garden felt like the Pirates’ 2016 Big East Tournament final win.
The bench stormed across the court into a celebratory mob just in front of the FOX broadcast table and the players briefly fell to the court in ecstasy.
The Seton Hall faithful at the Garden who made their presence known early and often — including a first half “overrated” chant — were partying like it was 2016 and Isaiah Whitehead had just hit a big shot.
Instead, it was a sophomore Myles Cale (17 pts, 4 rebs) who did the unthinkable and pump-faked, side-stepped, then sank what would be the game-winning three from just in front of Seton Hall’s bench after backcourt mate Myles Powell (28 pts, 4 asts) went off for 25 after the half.
“Myles Cale is my little brother. We share the same name. I love having him by my side. Every day in practice no matter if it’s a good or bad practice I tell him to keep his head up, keep shooting,” said a smiling Powell.
“I just told him ‘Stay with it, stay with it, your time is going to come.’ The pump fake, if you look at how he shot it, he took a page out of my book, that looked like one of my threes.”
Cale’s big shot came after missing 14 prior in what was largely an inefficient day from the field.
But the ability to put that all behind him and hit the game-winner with confidence says a lot.
“We’re really gritty. We get ours. We play defense,” said Cale of what this win says about the program.
“We’re not scared of the name on your jerseys, we’re going to go at you, it doesn’t matter.”
In what could be Seton Hall’s most memorable regular season win in decades if not ever, the Hall battled back from a rollercoaster end to regulation that saw them start overtime with three players fouled out.
Myles Powell hit an incredible step-back three from the wing to go ahead 70-67 with just over a second to play before Kentucky’s Sheldon Johnson sank a half court heave at the buzzer to tie it and send the Garden into a frenzy.
It was Powell’s fifth three of the second half, all of which came in the final 5:27 after he was held scoreless from the perimeter for the prior 35 minutes.
The performance should go down as one of the most legendary in regular season Seton Hall history, and it came after speaking to a former Pirates legend at halftime.
After coming out of the locker room, Seton Hall’s all-time leading scorer Terry Dehere pulled Powell aside during warmups and had a word with him at the Pirates’ bench.
“He said ‘Myles you good. I know they’re denying you the ball but you’ve got to go get the ball. You’ve got to do you. Don’t let them denying you the ball mess with your head,’” said Powell of the interaction.
“His name is hung up on the wall and in the Hall of Fame. I took that with me and went to get the ball in the second half and everything went my way.”
It was certainly a Dehere-like performance.
And it didn’t all occur on the court.
After Kentucky’s overtime-forcing shot, Powell admitted the team and Kevin Willard were absolutely stunned — so he took charge of the huddle.
“Me being the captain, me being the leader. I couldn’t show any doubt. I couldn’t have my head hanging,” said Powell of his reaction to Kentucky’s tying shot.
“We came back to the huddle and we knew they had the momentum and I was just telling my guys– the one thing I say when we break the huddle I say ‘Stay Together’ or I say ‘Family’ and I mean that. And I told them this is the time we have to stay together and keep our heads up.”
And boy would Seton Hall answer.
The Pirates hit their first four shots of overtime and stole the momentum right back until it looked like missed opportunities would ultimately doom them with Kentucky up 83-81 and 24 seconds left.
In context, Myles Cale’s unforgettable game-winner couldn’t have been more fitting.
Taurean Thompson made the extra pass and set up Cale for a great look after the offense looked out of sorts in the first half.
Then Cale sank a shot he missed several times prior after Kentucky tended to leave him open all game.
And let’s not forget how Cale was stuffed at the rim in the second half in a play that would sap the confidence out of the best of us.
It was all theater to set up the ultimate redemption that Kentucky would not answer this time.
“I didn’t want to call timeout. Each time I call timeout, you’re giving a Hall of Fame coach a chance to set up his defense,” said Kevin Willard of his team’s final possession.
“Every guy on the floor really made a big play at the end of the game. … The reason why he’s (Cale) out there for 44 minutes is he’s going to be a special player one day. It was a great ball fake, and he knocked it down.”
“Everything that we did this game, we battled out, we deserved it,” said Cale.
“I think, that game, we were supposed to win that game. Every defensive possession was important from Q, from Myles, Taurean, from everybody.
“Everybody played their heart out.”