On Wednesday night, the Prudential Center was expected to be a very exciting and entertaining place as the Seton Hall Pirates needed a big win to get back on track for the NCAA Tournament. The game represented a huge opportunity as the Pirates played host to the 11th-ranked team in the nation: the Butler Bulldogs.
But this game started off anything but exciting or entertaining. Maybe it was a case of both squads being great defensive teams, or maybe it was just the fact that both teams played horrendously on offense in the first half. It took Butler three full minutes to score their first points - a Kamar Baldwin 3-point basket giving Butler the early 3-2 lead.
Butler’s offense then went on a long scoring drought but finally tied the game up at five on a Kethan Savage jumper with 12:47 remaining in the half. After Savage’s jumper, the Bulldogs proceeded to go on a 10-0 run as they opened up a 15-5 lead.
Seton Hall was an offensive trainwreck in the first half as they shot a miserable 21.2 percent. As a result, BU held a 26-19 lead entering the locker room at halftime.
This game was truly a tale of two halves, as the ‘Dawgs opened up a 13-point lead to begin the half but that did not last long.
Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez led the Pirates on a 10-0 run as they cut the deficit down to 37-34 with 13:24 remaining in the game. From that point on in the second half the teams battled nip and tuck, as the Pirates even took the lead off of a Myles Powell 3-ball with 6:34 remaining.
The Bulldogs showed just how well Chris Holtmann has disciplined his team and remained composed down the stretch as they held off the Pirates and won 61-54. Andrew Chrabascz was impressive throughout in leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points and six rebounds.
Elsewhere, despite the loss, Delgado shined yet again. The junior forward recorded his second consecutive game with 20 or more rebounds, scooping up 22. He’s the first player to record back-to-back 20-rebound games in Big East play per John Paquette by way of Daly Dose of Hoops’ Twitter account. Quite the accomplishment, yeah?
The Pirates fall to 13-7 (3-5) and the Bulldogs improve their record to 18-3 (7-2) on the season.
Things We Learned
No Such Thing as a Moral Victory
Seton Hall’s second half comeback led by Delgado and Rodriguez was very inspiring to watch. But Seton Hall needed this win badly for their NCAA tournament resume. Things only get harder next Wednesday as the Pirates travel on the road to take on Xavier in Cincinnati and then Georgetown next Saturday in D.C. The Pirates have three more big opportunities at home with Xavier, Villanova and Creighton all down the road. The margin for error for the Pirates has become very small and they cannot afford anymore losses to any team below them in the Big East standings.
Chris Holtmann is one heck of a coach
Coming into the season, Butler was projected to finish as a middle of the pack Big East team. But Chris Holtmann has led the Bulldogs to big victories over Villanova and Indiana. As I mentioned earlier, the discipline his teams always display is phenomenal. Not only do Butler’s statistics demonstrate their discipline with one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation and their shooting at a high percentage, but it is their composure. I have seen Butler win three close games this year: Indiana, Villanova and now Seton Hall. Close games are won with good coaching, so it’s fair to give credit to Butler’s head man.