The anticipation grew with each possession, like a Home Run Derby crowd, gleefully waiting for the next pitch of a barrage.
When Myles Powell touched the ball, every eye in Madison Square Garden followed.
The 3s fell from deep, from the wing, from wherever he chose to defy logic, Georgetown’s defense and the opposing coaches who picked Seton Hall to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll.
During one incredible sequence, Powell picked off a pass and sprinted down the court for a slam. Seconds later, he intercepted another, before feeding Myles Cale for a layup.
Powell jogged back down the court, turned to the crowd, and pointed to the hardwood.
It is his team. It his time.
“This is my f–king city,” Powell screamed.
Who is going to argue?
The Trenton native put on an all-time performance in the third-seeded Pirates’ 73-57 Big East Tournament quarterfinal win over sixth-seeded Georgetown on Thursday night, with Powell scoring a tournament record 29 first-half points, and finishing with 31, to lead the Pirates to the semifinal for the fourth time since 2014.
Seton Hall (19-12), which clinched a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance with back-to-back regular season-ending wins over Villanova and Marquette, will meet the second-seeded Golden Eagles on Friday night.
Myles Powell lets out a scream after scoring a bucket during Seton Hall’s win.Anthony J. Causi
In last week’s meeting with Marquette, Powell saved the season by scoring 34 points, and keying a game-closing 18-0 run. Apparently, it may have only been an appetizer.
As the lone starter left from a squad that had reached three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, Powell has borne tremendous weight, leading a young supporting cast, with limited offensive firepower. On many occasions, he has carried the Pirates. At his best, he has elevated them.
Powell set the tone on both ends of the floor, hitting his first shot, and picking off an early pass for a different fast-break dunk. He played distributor and disruptor and energizer — also finishing with three steals and three assists — and strutted like he was lighting up Rucker Park.
Meanwhile, Seton Hall’s harassing defense held the Big East’s highest-scoring team to 15 points through 14 minutes — while scoring 15 points off turnovers — as the Hoyas (19-13) opened with seven made field goals and eight turnovers.
When Powell picked up his second foul with six minutes left in the first half, Seton Hall led by 20. It would have been easy for Kevin Willard to pull his star, and avoid risking another foul before halftime. Instead, the show went on. The junior drained a couple more from deep — including one with the shot clock expiring — and scored 18 of Seton Hall’s final 21 points of the half, repeatedly smiling like he was Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders. The cheers were replaced by a lengthy standing ovation, and “MVP” chant.
In breaking Doug McDermott’s 27-point mark from 2014, Powell hit 10-of-14 shots, leading Seton Hall to a 53-28 halftime lead.
“It’s like throwing a rock in the ocean,” Powell said during the halftime TV interview.
Donyell Marshall’s all-time tourney scoring record (42 points) was in danger, but Powell missed six of his first seven second-half shots, and settled for his eighth 30-plus point game of the season.
Prepare for an encore. Powell is.