For the first time all season, Seton Hall had a must-win game. They had just lost two straight at home, three in a row, and four of their last five games. However, they were able to right the ship in Milwaukee and defeat a solid Marquette team that had not been down by 20 or more points in a conference game all season. The Pirates got balanced scoring and despite letting the Golden Eagles back into it at times in the second half, played solid defensively.
In the first half, it was a back and forth affair with many lead changes and ties. Both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, but the good sign for the Pirates was that three point shots were falling. After the half, The Hall continued to put it on the Golden Eagles on both sides of the ball and built a 23 point lead at one point in the second half.
This was the first time this season, at least in conference play, that the Pirates played a game that they could not afford to lose based on the standings in the Big East. The Hall would have been tied with the Golden Eagles for eighth in the conference and the Pirates did not want that to happen, especially with a tough stretch upcoming. They figured out a way to get the win. Here were some of the key statistics from the game.
- Both teams shot 38.7 percent from the field in the first half and with the Pirates up four at halftime it still seemed like it was anyone's game.
- Seton Hall's bench was outscored by Marquette 19-0, which indicates how well the starters played for the Pirates.
- Marquette had 26 points off of the 15 Seton Hall turnovers, but could not win the game. The Pirates only had nine points off of five Golden Eagle turnovers.
- The Hall went on a 28-8 run early in the second half that seemly put the game out of reach, but Marquette cut it down to 10.
- Seton Hall shot a scorching 63 percent from the field in the second half to just 45.7 percent from Marquette. They just could not miss.
- Marquette had a number of opportunities to cut the deficit to single digits with three pointers, but missed them all. The Golden Eagles could not get over the hump.
- Seton Hall made 13 of their 26 three point attempts. It was the most they had made in a game this season and it could have come at a better time.
- The Hall outrebounded the Golden Eagles 38-32, which is no surprise because the Pirates have more size.
- Despite that rebounding, the Pirates were outscored 36-22 in the paint, which normally makes a big impact, but the three balls were falling.
- This game had six lead changes and six ties throughout, but the Pirates showed that they were the better team. They delivered a knockout punch that Coach Willard would certainly like to see more of going forward.
- Five Pirates finished in double figures in scoring and two players had double-doubles. It was just a great all-around performance from The Hall.
- This was a vital win and gets the Pirates back to 4-4 in the conference with a chance to move up in the standings in the games ahead.
- Folks, this was a conference player of the year type of outing from Sterling Gibbs and The Hall got it right when they needed it most. He finished with 24 points and 10 assists on 9-17 shooting from the field. Willard told Gibbs he had to shoot a lot in this game and it certainly paid off. Gibbs is turning into a star before our very eyes.
- Khadeen Carrington has continued to emerge and has earned a starting spot on the team in my mind for the foreseeable future. He had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists and shot 7-10 from the field. When Isaiah Whitehead returns the Pirates could be on the verge of their own "Big 3" in South Orange.
- Yet another double-double from Angel Delgado who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. At times, we saw his emotional side of him on the court as he argued calls and with maturity that will go away. He is making the case for the Big East Rookie of the Year Award and best rebounder in the conference.
- Brandon Mobley had 13 points, nine rebounds and added three blocks as well. When Mobley is playing well, the Pirates are very dangerous and he did have a solid game against the Golden Eagles.
- Can we lay off of Desi Rodriguez? Please. He may not be as solid as Delgado and he only had two rebounds against Marquette. However, he is a raw talent that does not have the physical tools that Delgado has yet. At times, he looks raw, but he can also battle on the boards and score. He will struggle from time to time. Leave Desi alone! The kid can play.
- It seems that whenever Jaren Sina contributes the Pirates win and both things went down in Milwaukee. The sophomore had 11 points, six assists and made three buckets from distance. Going forward, it would be nice to see more out of him since he is a leader on the team. However, when Whitehead comes back, I do not see Sina starting. He will be relegated to a bench role where he will be expected to just make three pointers like Steve Novak, who is a Marquette alum by the way.
- The bench did not need to contribute anything, but Coach Willard did not give them much of a chance. He challenged his starters to carry the way and they certainly did.
Wrapping it all up
Seton Hall received a huge lift from the starters, especially Gibbs and got back on track. The Hall are two 2-2 at home and 2-2 on the road in the Big East, which puts them in a decent position going forward with plenty of opportunities to move up in the standings. This game will give the Pirates confidence going forward instead of yet another loss on the road.
Pirates’ fans overreacted a little during the losing streak and have to realize that this is a long season. Seton Hall has a chance to move up in the standings and get Whitehead back in the process. Patience is the key with this team and Willard is exercising that while letting the veterans carry the team along with the young bucks.
The Hall now get ready for a couple of revenge games against Xavier followed by DePaul where we could see Whitehead. During this stretch, the Pirates will look to climb back into the top half of the standings. Against Xavier, Gibbs and Delgado will both have to play well once again, but the pressure could be taken off of them if players like Sina, Mobley and Carrington can also contribute. At home, the Pirates have lost two in a row so the house will be rocking as they look to hold serve against the Musketeers in Newark.