Buzzer-beaters. Walk-offs. Championship runs. Basketball in space.
Seton Hall and Creighton have wedged themselves into the pantheon of weird sports tilts. Maybe you’ve been paying close attention to this phenomenon. Maybe you’re oblivious to it. Maybe you’ve never heard of either institution and got here because someone on reddit or tumblr accidentally posted this article onto a popular page. Maybe I don’t know how reddit or tumblr work.
I contacted NASA last week and asked them if there was some sort of bizarre alignment of the planets or stars or space stuff whenever the Pirates and Bluejays met on a playing surface. They contacted me back today and alerted me to the fact that, although they don’t have the answers to my questions, I’ve won a free cruise. They asked me to do a survey.
I did the survey.
They took my credit card number.
I panicked and gave it to them.
They charged $2,500 to my credit card.
I have a cruise scheduled for Smarch, 2087.
Is this what it feels like to get scammed?
I don’t have an astronomical explanation for the mind-bending journeys that the Pirates and Bluejays take us on seemingly every time they meet, but I do have videos and gifs and brief explanations for proof that, perhaps, The White Lodge and The Black Lodge exist in South Orange and Omaha simultaneously.
AN UMPIRE DIES
In the second game of a 3-game series back in the 2016 season, former Creighton short stop Nicky Lopez roped a base hit through the left side. Bluejay second baseman Ryan Fitzgerald, on first at the time, chose an aggressive route and rounded second as Pirate left fielder Zack Weigel charged in and made a bad throw to third base. What ensued afterwards was utter chaos:
Here’s the gif of that umpire biffing it for your viewing pleasure:
Note: The umpire did not die in that moment, but did not finish umpiring the game. He may have passed since then. If that’s the case, R.I.P Umpire. If that’s not the case... still R.I.P Umpire.
Sterling Gibbs Game Winner In Omaha / Angel Delgado Game Winner in South Orange
In Creighton’s history of bad seasons, the 2014-15 season was historically heart-wrenching, as they lost a whole buttload of close games. Seton Hall, in this same season, lost games in similar ways.
When two teams meet on the struggle bus, both desperately needing wins, fireworks ensue. These two affairs proved no different.
To start, controversial figure Sterling Gibbs answered a Will Artino put back with 2.1 ticks on the clock to get a dub over the floundering Bluejays. The three was pure and excellent:
James Milliken had an open three to win the thing, but it bricked off the iron.
In the second game, Creighton led for a majority of the game, but Seton Hall stayed with them throughout. With 25 seconds left, the Pirates had control, and freshman Isaiah Whitehead drove the lane and put up a haphazard shot. It rimmed off, into the hands of rebounding aficionado and a very young, fresh faced Angel Delgado, who promptly put the ball into the rim within a sea of bodies.
With 15.9 seconds left, Creighton had all the opportunities to win, yet James Milliken missed a jumper, then Geoffrey Groselle got an offensive board and missed the put back. Another heart breaker for the Jays, another last second win for the Pirates:
Ethan Wragge, known for nailing three pointers from every corner of this flat, spherical planet, finished his career at Creighton with an 87% success rate from the free throw line. As it goes, great three point shooters tend to be great free throw shooters, but on this night in Omaha he crumbled under assumed pressure.
This was the first year for the Jays in the BIG EAST. Uncharted waters. The vein of basketball ore suddenly got miles deeper. Doug McDermott.
Seton Hall was having a weird year. They played games close, they lost to Butler by 17 on a Saturday at Hinkle and then beat them by one four days later. Schizophrenic? Perhaps. Good? No idea.
They got rolled by the Jays the first time around. They got the Jays on the ropes in Omaha the second time. Fuquan Edwin nailed two free throws with 8 seconds left to make it a one point game at 72-71. Pirates needed to foul or get a steal, and their full court trap seemed to work, with a loose ball rolling around underneath their basket. The ball proceeded to roll through Fuquan Edwin’s legs, and Ethan Wragge jumped on the ball and got the foul call.
To the line.
72-71, Pirate ball with 4 seconds left, running on the fastbreak.
The ball gets into Edwin’s hands, and he tossed up a 1⁄2 court shot as time expired.
Off the backboard. That close:
KHADEEN CARRINGTON THE CAT BURGLAR
With 21 seconds left, TOBY! Hegner tossed in a three to put the resurgent Bluejays within two points of the Pirates at the Prudential Center. Kevin Willard called a timeout to reshuffle his deck, talk to his players, and get a nice drink of water.
Out of the timeout, the Jays fouled Carrington and sent him to the line where he made both of his free throws. Pretty run of the mill, game ending stuff, right?
As Creighton inbounded the ball to Marcus Foster, Foster let the ball roll as long as possible to save time on the clock. Whether or not this is an effective method of late-game management is an argument for another day, but Foster let the ball roll a bit too long as it approached the half court line.
Meanwhile, as the ball steadily rolled, Carrington lay in wait, on his tip toes, stealthily getting closer and closer to Foster at mid court.
Carrington then pounced, grabbed the ball, then took it to the tin for an emphatic slam that acted as the proverbial dagger:
WALK OFF FROM THE GODS (OR HELL)
This is a sports moment I think about a lot. I remember sitting at my desk, watching it on a livestream in the dead of night, jotting down notes and thoughts as the game wore on.
For the most part, it was a back and forth affair between Creighton and Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Baseball Tournament in 2016. Winner gets Xavier, loser gets St. John’s.
Earlier in this article I highlighted the tumbling umpire and Zack Weigel, the legendary Seton Hall left fielder. Remember that name. This is called foreshadowing.
With Creighton trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the 9th, current Tigers prospect Danny Woodrow stepped to the dish with two on and one out with runners on 1st and 2nd. He proceeded to pop up a pitch into the bermuda triangle in shallow left center, where the ball fell to the turf and Zack Weigel fielded the ball.
Those two runners on base? They uh, both scored.
He ended up on third base.
How’d this game end?
Here, you know what, just watch it for yourself:
Just... I’ve never seen anything like it.
CARRINGTON AND WHITEHEAD ACHIEVE SUPERNOVA AT MSG
Before Seton Hall was lifting the ‘BIG EAST CHAMPIONS’ sign at Madison Square Garden, they had to win a couple games first. Their first opponent happened to be the Creighton Bluejays.
In what turned out to be Cole Huff’s best game in a Creighton uniform, scoring 35 points on vaunted defender Ish Sanogo, Khadeen Carrington and Isaiah Whitehead turned out highlight after highlight as they scorched the Jays from all over the court.
Carrington scored 27 points on 10-17 shooting, but poured in 5 threes in his ceremonious effort against the Jays. Whitehead, who’d eventually win MVP and get drafted by the Brooklyn Nets, scored 24 points while dipping and weaving through the Bluejay trees. It seemed like every drive to the bucket was physically laboring, as he’d shoot 15 free throws, making 12 of them.
This was the start of their historic BIG EAST Tournament run, beating the Jays 81-73.
BOZELLA GETS OWENS’D
The Creighton’s women’s team, at 8-8 in conference in the 2015-16 season, was slotted into the BIG EAST Tournament as the #7 seed, meaning they played in the opening round on Saturday.
Seton Hall, at 12-6 and the #3 seed in the tournament, skipped that opening round but ran into the underdog Bluejays in the semifinals on Monday.
Tony Bozella’s Pirates squeaked by Jim Flanery’s Bluejays both times in the regular season, 86-82 and 77-71. To beat a team three times in a season is considered a relatively high mark in complete dominance.
Let’s just say the Pirates fell short of that mark.
With MC McGrory pouring in 23 points on 7-10 shooting and Jade Owens complimenting that with 16 of her own on 8-11 shooting, the Bluejays blew the doors off the Pirates 77-56.
The Jays would go on to lost to the 4th seeded St. John’s in the championship, but a #7 seed making a run like that is pretty magical.