Seton Hall's road woes continued on Wednesday in Cincinnati. The Pirates battled, but down the stretch in the second half seemed to lose their way offensively, eventually leading to a 69-58 loss at the hands of the Xavier Musketeers. The Hall is one of only two teams to win at the Cintas Center with Xavier as a member of the Big East Conference, and the Musketeers showed again why it is so difficult to win there.
In the first half, the Pirates seemed to keep the crowd in check led by performances from unlikely sources, but Xavier still led by five at the break. The Hall did go into the break with some momentum on a late basket from Desi Rodriguez and the Pirates continued great play into the second half. Down the stretch, however, the Musketeers went on a 20-7 run to close out The Hall.
Coach Kevin Willard said after the game that it is still a process for his team on the road. The Pirates are still looking for a marquee win away from home in the Big East. When Isaiah Whitehead returns, that "process" will become easier, but the Pirates have still impressed, even in this game, without him. It was late in the second half when it all fell apart on Wednesday.
Seton Hall team notes
- Seton Hall's shot selection was not great for the majority of the game and getting penetration on the Xavier defense was hard to come by on offense.
- Despite keeping Matt Stainbrook in check for most of the game, Xavier still outscored Seton Hall 40-28 in points in the paint. X, at times, was able to get any shot they wanted inside.
- Xavier is now 197-27 all-time at the Cintas Center and had another sellout on Wednesday. Seton Hall, a young team, had some trouble with the noise and heckling from fans.
- This game had 11 ties and eight lead changes throughout. Many of them featured the Pirates coming back so they did handle adversity well.
- That 20-7 run was the dagger and the Pirates settled for many outside shots during that run.
- Seton Hall committed 11 turnovers and Xavier turned those mistakes into 15 points. The Hall forced 10 turnovers, but only scored eight points off of those mistakes. That was a key difference.
- Against Villanova, the Pirates outscored the Wildcats 11-0 in fast break points. On Wednesday in Cincinnati, The Blue and White were outscored 15-5 in fast break points including 12-0 in the first half. Seton Hall is at its best in transition.
- One of the consistent parts of this team has been rebounding and the Pirates fought hard on the glass against a tough Xavier front line.
- Pirates showed incredible effort and it paid off with 18 second chance points, which is impressive.
Seton Hall individual player notes
- Sterling Gibbs had zero points in the first half and finished the night with only eight. Gibbs, for much of the game, settled for tough jump shots and at times held the ball too long on offense. That led to stagnant possessions. However, Gibbs did dish out seven assists and showed that even when he is struggles putting the ball in the hole, he can still make an impact.
- On the glass, Angel Delgado was good again with six rebounds and he led the Pirates in scoring with 12 points. Seton Hall should expect scoring from Delgado, but this team cannot rely on him for scoring.
- With about six minutes left, Brandon Mobley fouled out of the game and it seemed to change everything. The Pirates seemed to lose their poise and also lost a player on offense who had been getting the job done. It sparked the run that ended The Hall's chances at getting the win.
- "Where the heck did he come from?" That was probably one of the many thoughts that ran through the minds of Seton Hall fans when they saw Haralds Karlis lead the Pirates in scoring at the half and finish with 10 points. He was the only other player, besides Delgado, in double figures for points and even threw down an impressive slam dunk. Pirates' fans knew he could throw down dunks, but did not see this performance coming from him.
- Jaren Sina has been "Jekyll and Hyde" so far this season. He will go off for a couple of games or put in a performance like this one against Xavier. That is the life of a one dimensional, three point sharp shooter. Sina had five points and three rebounds. Despite a few impressive rebounds, Sina went only 1-6 from downtown. Consistency will be the key for him going forward.
- We did not see the same Khadeen Carrington against Xavier that we saw vs. Villanova. He only had five points and was not as aggressive driving inside of the paint. That lack of penetration hurt the offense. He is a freshman so consistency and patience will be important to his development.
- Desi Rodriguez led The Hall with seven rebounds and was impressive against tough frontcourt players once again. We have really seen D-Rob grow up over the last few games in conference play.
- Head coach Kevin Willard surprised a number of people by not only starting Stephane Manga again, but by placing Chier Ajou in the starting lineup over Delgado. This switch was probably due to the size of Stainbrook and Ajou certainly stayed with him physically, but Delgado kept him in check which is why it was a curious decision. Manga is likely starting to keep some pressure off of a player like Carrington who is not used to starting in college. I am not sure if there is a better explanation for that due to Manga's lack of production.
What's next for The Hall
This was the first road game in Big East play, but the Pirates are now 1-3 on the road this season. They have lost in three difficult environments and The Hall are still trying to finish games on the road. It is as simple as playing a full 40 minutes of consistent basketball for the Pirates to end this tough road stretch, but this is a young team so it could take some time to piece it all together.
Xavier came in off of a tough loss to DePaul before getting back on track against the Pirates at home. That is literally the same exactly task that faces a Creighton team that is 0-3 in the Big East so far. It is a great opportunity for The Hall to build some confidence away from The Rock.
For the Creighton game, this is a must-win for the Pirates if they want to stay ranked in the Top 25 next week. This is also a chance to win in a tough environment, but against a struggling Bluejays team that is starting to really feel the loss of Doug McDermott after a great start at the beginning of nonconference play. Once again, the Pirates will have a target on their back with that ranking and will need to show that they can bounce back. This time away from the Prudential Center.