"Frustration" has been the word that Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard has said time and again during the Pirates below-.500 Big East slate. On Thursday, the frustration that the Pirates have had turned refreshing as something happened that has not occurred in over a decade.
The Hall was one off of its game-high in assists with 20 as guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina combined for 28 points, 11 dishes, and just one turnover in an 82-67 rout over Georgetown. It was the first time since 2003 that the blue and white swept Georgetown and only the fourth time in the program’s history since the Big East originated in 1979. The Hoyas, who dropped to 6-8 in the conference and are currently seventh, are out of the NCAA Tournament picture barring a run in the Big East Tournament.
Two jumpers in the first 80 seconds of action from senior guard Fuquan Edwin gave The Hall a 4-0 lead, a lead that The Hall would not give up in the course of 40 minutes. Edwin, who finished with 21 on the night and 45 on the season versus Georgetown, shot 9-of-13 from the field with three treys. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored eight of the first 13 points and through eight minutes of action, Georgetown only trailed by two.
But from there, the Hoyas would get no closer in the first half as Sterling Gibbs drilled his lone three-pointer of the game which was followed by an Edwin lay-in to make it a seven-point advantage. Seton Hall would lead by as many as 11 in the first half as an Edwin three-ball made it 37-26 with a minute to go in the first stanza, but a lay-in by the Hoyas made it a single-digit deficit for Georgetown after 20 minutes.
It was not as easy for the Pirates to get off to a strong start in the second half, as a jumper by point guard Markel Starks, who had 13 on the night, made it a 37-34 ballgame still in favor of SHU.
The Pirates would not look back from there, rolling out a 17-4 run that would span five minutes. It was capped by a trey from Seton Hall freshman guard Jaren Sina, who finished with 10 points, four assists, and just one turnover in working with Gibbs in the backcourt.
The lead was cut to 11 with just under four minutes to play, but a lay-in by forward Patrik Auda, who had eight points, and a three-pointer from Sina after the Hoyas missed put it in the books.
Seton Hall had a 74 percent assist rate and was scoring 1.28 points per possession as the Pirates ended a three-game skid with the win. The Pirates hit on 27 of 49 shots, giving them a field goal mark of over 55 percent. The Pirates hit on 20-of-27 free throws and outrebounded Georgetown, 33-31. With 15 fast break points, Gibbs and company opened up the offense which helped The Hall’s movement in the half-court even more.
"When our two point guards have 11 assists yet one turnover, we’re a pretty good basketball team," Willard said. "We have goals that we want to achieve to wrap up the regular season. We have one done, which is to improve at home."
Breaking down the conference situation for Seton Hall:
With the win, Seton Hall still has a shot to be a reach at the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament. The Pirates are in eighth right now and would play DePaul in the first round. But with games against the Blue Demons, Providence, Xavier, and Butler following the Pirates’ tilt at Creighton, the door will be knocking. The question is whether Georgetown, at 6-8 in the conference, can get motivated again and back on its fate. The Pirates will need to take care of business on Friday, Feb. 28 inside The Rock at 7 p.m. For now, the focus shifts to the best player in the country in Doug McDermott and Creighton. The Bluejays have been tremendous as of late, as a 101-80 win over Villanova really put voters and pollsters to go after ‘Nova and praise the Bluejays. The Pirates need to split their road trip, and it is quite unlikely that they get this ballgame. The hope rests in DePaul on Tuesday. That will still keep hope alive to get that sixth spot and a first-round bye, which once again, needs a lot for it to happen for the Pirates. And if there is one thing to never do with Seton Hall, it’s to assume.