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Apr 3, 2024 3:01 pm

Top seeds Seton Hall, Indiana State battle for NIT crown

robbie avila

After getting left out of the NCAA Tournament, Indiana State and Seton Hall have spent the past three weeks turning lemons into lemonade.

The Sycamores and Pirates will try to put an exclamation point on their NIT journeys Thursday when they square off in the tournament title game in Indianapolis.

Indiana State (32-6) and Seton Hall (24-12) are both No. 1 seeds and certainly have looked the part over the last four games.

The Sycamores have been impressive offensively, averaging 90.5 points in wins over SMU, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Utah. In Tuesday’s 100-90 semifinal win over the Utes, Ryan Conwell matched his career high with 27 points and Robbie Avila added 26 points and 10 rebounds.

“When you get guys who are winners like this, the sky is the limit of what you can accomplish,” said Indiana State coach Josh Schertz, whose team will play for its first postseason tournament title since Larry Bird and the 1978-79 squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament championship game.

The Sycamores took advantage of a partisan crowd in the win over Utah, as the Final Four is being played fewer than 100 miles from the Indiana State campus in Terre Haute.

“We feed off the energy that the crowd brings us,” Avila said. “Sycamore Nation is one of a kind and we got the job done today because of them.”

Hinkle Fieldhouse will likely be loaded with Indiana State fans again on Thursday, but not much has rattled Seton Hall in this tournament. The Pirates slipped past Saint Joseph’s in overtime in their NIT opener before posting double-digit wins over North Texas, UNLV and Georgia.

Al-Amir Dawes (20 points) and Dre Davis (19 points, nine rebounds) were among the Seton Hall standouts in Tuesday’s 84-67 triumph over Georgia. Kadary Richmond chipped in 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Pirates reached the NIT title game for the first time since winning the tourney in 1953.

“Any time you get a chance to play for a championship, it’s super important. It’s huge,” Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway said. “It would have been so easy for us to put our heads down and mope because of (getting left out of the NCAA Tournament). These guys stuck with it, they stuck with me and we’re playing. We’re still showing the world that Seton Hall is a really, really good team.”

–Field Level Media

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