It was a tale of two halves in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on opening night for the BIG EAST Conference.
After Marquette took a 40-39 lead over Seton Hall into the break, they suffered a long second half field goal drought, and were outscored 44-23 en route to an 83-63 loss to the now 11-win Pirates.
All five Pirate starters scored in double digits, led by Desi Rodriguez's 19 points. The highly regarded backcourt duo of Khadeen Carrington and Isaiah Whitehead added 17 and 16 respectively, and Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo added 11 and 10. Off the bench, guard Derrick Gordon was a constant defensive presence, and chipped in 7 points on the offensive end as well.
The Golden Eagles, namely prized freshman Henry Ellenson, were suffocated by the Pirates defense throughout the second half, and saw their deficit grow with each passing possession. Ellenson was limited to 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field, but still managed to pull down 14 rebounds to earn a double-double.
Fellow big man Luke Fischer was a solid contributor, pitching in 12 points. Freshman guard Haanif Cheatham finished with a team high 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and Duane Wilson scrapped his way to 13 points as well, albeit on 4-of-11 shooting.
Seton Hall opened the second half on a 16-8 run, pushing their lead to 55-48 at the under-12 minute TV timeout. After a brief period of scoreless play, Wilson hit a runner while being fouled, cutting the Seton Hall lead to five, and energizing the Bradley Center.
When Wilson missed the free throw, the tide seemed to turn once more; Marquette made just one field goal in the next seven minutes, a Cheatham jumper to cut the lead to 59-52. By the time Ellenson drilled a 3-pointer with just over three minutes left, it was too late; Seton Hall had pushed their lead to 73-57.
Both teams entered the game 10-2, and hoped to open with a statement victory to compliment impressive out-of-conference campaigns. However, it was the Pirates that boosted their resume with a key road win to open Big East play, and the Eagles sent back to the drawing board following a second half to forget.
Next for the Pirates is a Saturday match-up with DePaul at the Prudential Center. As for the Eagles, a road trip to Georgetown is now as close to a must-win as an early conference game can get.