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Apr 1, 2024 9:12 pm

Seton Hall, Georgia clash for spot in NIT title game

dawes

The anguish of narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament has not kept Seton Hall from engineering the deep postseason run it envisioned.

Meanwhile, Georgia has used its fortunate NIT invitation to orchestrate its own tournament success.

A spot in the NIT championship awaits as the top-seeded Pirates (23-12) battle the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (20-16) in a semifinal on Tuesday in Indianapolis. The winner will remain in town to face either Utah or Indiana State in the final on Thursday.

Seton Hall was among a handful of schools that received an NIT invitation after just missing out on the premier tournament. Some schools declined to play in the NIT, but guard Al-Amir Dawes said the Pirates agreed they wanted to keep playing and finish their season strong.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it to win it all,” added fellow guard Kadary Richmond after Seton Hall thrashed visiting UNLV 91-68 in Wednesday’s quarterfinal in South Orange, N.J.

Richmond has averaged 11 points, 8.3 rebounds and seven assists over the team’s three NIT contests, while Dawes has paced the Pirates with 20.3 points per game throughout the tournament.

Seton Hall’s success hasn’t come in the tournament they had hoped to make, but the Pirates have embraced the opportunity to chase a championship nonetheless.

“Basketball is basketball at this time of year,” coach Shaheen Holloway said. “You gotta be really appreciative of being out there.”

Georgia’s NIT bid was originally reserved for Ole Miss before the Rebels opted out of the postseason. The Bulldogs have proven they belong in the NIT, rattling off three straight wins to move within one victory of the program’s first-ever NIT championship game berth.

Last Tuesday’s 79-77 win at Ohio State secured Georgia’s first NIT semifinal appearance since 1998.

“Our resiliency, our toughness, our willingness to want to continue to compete and keep fighting for one another was on full display,” Bulldogs coach Mike White said on Tuesday. “Just really proud of this group.”

Senior guard Noah Thomasson leads Georgia with 17.3 points per game throughout the tournament and is one of the most confident players White said he has coached.

“He can miss eight in a row and (still) thinks his next eight are going in,” White said.

Thomasson led the Bulldogs with 21 points in Tuesday’s win.

–Field Level Media

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