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Big East Conference Roundup

NEW YORK, March 12 (UPI) -- Marcus Hatten scored 18 points to lead a balanced attack Wednesday, helping the St. John's Red Storm avoid a second-half collapse and forge an 83-80 upset over No. 19 Notre Dame in the first round of the Big East Conference Tournament.

In other first-round action, Providence defeated West Virginia, 73-50; Georgetown survived a scare against Villanova, 46-41; and Seton Hall rolled past Miami, 67-52.

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The Red Storm nearly squandered a 23-point lead in the second half before holding on to surprise the Fighting Irish.

St. John's (16-12) saw its lead cut to 82-80 after Notre Dame's Matt Carroll hit a three-pointer with 70 seconds remaining. After the Red Storm missed a shot, the Fighting Irish's Torin Francis was fouled on a short shot attempt with 11 seconds to go.

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Francis, a freshman, missed both free throws and the rebound ended up in the hands of Hatten, who was fouled.

Hatten missed his second foul shot, giving Notre Dame (22-9) a final chance to tie the game. Carroll rushed the ball upcourt and his running three-pointer banged off the back rim with one second left.

"It's almost like you don't deserve it because you haven't played consistently for 40 minutes," Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey said. "Not today, you are not stealing it today."

The Red Storm won their fourth straight and advanced to meet Boston College in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Eagles beat St. John's twice in the regular season.

Although Hatten led the way, St. John's placed five players in double figures -- a far cry from its usual one-dimensional attack. Freshman Elijah Ingram finished with 17 points, Kyle Cuffe had 13 and Willie Shaw 12.

"For us to score 47 (first-half) points and Marcus not to be at the top of his game is a drastic improvement," St. John's Coach Mike Jarvis said. "Yes we hung on, but we hung on. Maybe earlier in the year we wouldn't have."

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Hatten scored 11 points in the second half after making only two of nine shots in the first 20 minutes. Ingram helped pick up the slack with five three-pointers.

"Coming into the game, I was just looking to be aggressive and take the shots that were there," Ingram said. "I am going to continue to be aggressive."

Cuffe scored 11 points in the first half as St. John's took control early and never let up. Ingram's three-pointer capped a 9-0 spurt for an 11-4 lead nearly five minutes in and a layup by Anthony Glover made it 21-6 with 10:26 left before halftime.

"My guys played I thought a phenomenal first half and obviously, as it turned out, we needed that against an offensive machine like Notre Dame," Jarvis said.

The Irish have lost four out of five, but went 12-2 against non-conference foes this season and will almost certainly receive an at-large bid to play in the NCAA Tournament.

"We're looking forward, we're excited and proud that we'll play in the NCAA Tournament," Brey said. "It may be refreshing to get out of this league now. They have got us figured out in the league."

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Providence took a 44-27 halftime advantage against West Virginia and coasted in the second half to improve to 17-12.

Ryan Gomes paced the Friars with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Providence will face Pittsburgh in the second of Thursday's quarterfinal games.

The evening session started with what came close to a second straight shocking triumph for Villanova.

One night after the women's team from Villanova ended Connecticut's record 70-game winning streak, the men fought to the last minute before falling to Georgetown.

Villanova's season ended one week after 12 players after suspended for unauthorized use of a school telephone calling card. The Wildcats ended their season with five straight losses.

Georgetown will move on to face Syracuse Thursday night.

Seton Hall raced to a 38-19 halftime lead against Miami and coasted the rest of the way in setting up a meeting with Connecticut in the quarterfinal round.

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