Saturday, March 4, 2017

2017 Big East Women's Tournament first round recap: Weaver's game-winner propels Butler to the second round

                                                          Photo Credit: Geno Green

MILWAUKEE— For the second straight season, the No. 10-seeded Butler Bulldogs (6-24) eliminated the No. 7-seeded Xavier Musketeers (12-18), 68-66 behind Michelle Weaver’s game-winning jumper from the high post with seven seconds left.

Weaver. who finished with 15 points went off-script from coach Kurt Godlevske's play call and found daylight through improvisation.

"Coach (Godlevske) needed us to get the ball with like nine seconds left and just go off of a screen and try to get to the basket, and I couldn't get to the basket, so I decided on a pull-up jumper, shot it, hoped it went in, and it did," Weaver said.

The other Bulldog who finished in double figures was Tori Schickel with a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds.

"My teammates did a really nice job of getting me the ball, and I think that's something we've done all season," Schickel said. "We kind of found our offense good inside, and it's been really key for me to just take a breath sometimes and just be able to relax and understand when people are coming to double-team, when to get the ball out to my teammates, but also at the same time to look to be a scorer as much as possible."

In defeat, Xavier's Raeshaun Gaffney finished with a team-high 20 points, on 5-of-11 shooting and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Butler moves on to play No. 2-seeded Creighton on March 5 at Noon in the quarterfinal round on FS2  and the Fox Sports Go app.

In the second game, the No. 8 Seton Hall Pirates (12-18) relied on the youth movement to knock off the No. 9 Providence Friars (12-18), 73-60. Freshman Kaela Hilaire finished with a team-high 18 points, while JaQuan Jackson chipped in with 17 and a workman's nine-point, 11-rebound effort from Lubirdia Gordon capped things off.

Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozzella believed Jackson and Hilaire came into the tournament with a chip on their shoulders after a disappointing regular-season campaign.

"They came in with definitely determination, definitely focus, and all year (JaQuan) has been a focused, determined young lady, seeing double teams in her first year of action in the Big East," Bozzella said.

In her final collegiate game, Sarah Beal led the Friars with 18 points, on 7-of-14 from the field, to go along with five rebounds and assists each.

First-year Providence coach Jim Crowley did not want to reflect on the overall depth of what Beal brought given his short tenure, but saw the grit and hustle on a daily basis.

"(Sarah) never backed down, and we need more of that," Crowley said. "She went right at people, whether it be whoever was in the league, and I think that carried over to some of our other players and helped with Yoyo and CC and Maddie having more of an aggressive mindset."

The Pirates have a tall task to carry as they play the top-seeded DePaul Blue Demons in the quarterfinal round on March 5 at 6 p.m. on FS2 and the Fox Sports Go App.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.