Too big. Too strong. Too athletic.
The third meeting between Seton Hall and UConn was no contest, nothing like the far closer first two encounters.
In its return to the Big East Tournament — the one with fans — the third-seeded Huskies looked capable of cutting down the nets Saturday night. They cooled off the previously hot Pirates, who entered the evening on a six-game winning streak, but trailed by double figures most of the evening in a one-sided 62-52 loss.
In front of a UConn-heavy sold-out crowd, Danny Hurley’s team defended and rebounded at an elite level, and made enough shots to cruise into Friday night’s semifinals. It will meet No. 2 Villanova in the nightcap, after No. 1 Providence takes on fourth-seeded Creighton.
UConn methodically built a 14-point, first-half lead, and while it was a seven-point game on a few occasions after the break, Seton Hall never seemed capable of putting a scare into the Huskies.
It certainly didn’t help that senior star Jared Rhoden shot a woeful 2-of-13 from the field or that the Pirates shot just 35 percent overall. Nothing came easy against Hurley’s stingy team, which won the battle on the glass, 46-33, and in the paint, 28-20.
R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin each scored 17 for the Huskies.