Seton Hall experienced no Louisville hangover as they continued their non-conference momentum with a 90-67 win over VCU at the Prudential Center in the Never Forget Classic.
The Pirates were led by their defense from the beginning and they used it stymie the Rams for most of the game.
That defensive intensity led to good offense on the other end and that’s just the way Seton Hall likes it.
Seton Hall had five players in double figures led by Desi Rodriguez who put forth 17 points on 7-10 from the field and seven rebounds.
Angel Delgado chipped in his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 boards.
Myles Powell was stellar with 16 points, three rebounds and five assists along with some impressive defensive plays.
The Pirates have turned into a team where just about anyone can beat you.
“I think everyone has been playing together for so long and everyone knows their roll,” Angel Delgado said. “We play as a team and everyone is trying to share the ball and that’s what we are doing well right now.”
The story of this game was the performance by Seton Hall in the paint. They outscored VCU 52-30 in the paint and shot 55 percent from the field for the game. Seton Hall also had 14 points off of turnovers compared to just two for the Rams.
Coming off of a big win in Louisville, it was clear the Pirates wanted to extend the statement they made last week in Newark on Saturday.
“We knew how important this game was and we had to come out and play our best basketball,” Desi Rodriguez said. “We got into a good flow offensively. I’m proud of our guys.”
Seton Hall put on a clinic defensively and turned it into efficient transition offense, which is their bread and butter.
The game plan for Coach Kevin Willard was to zero in on VCU’s best on the offensive end and let the rest take care of itself.
“We worried about one guy and one guy only,” Willard said. “We wanted to make [Justin Tillman] uncomfortable. We wanted to limit De’Riante (Jenkins). Take those two guys, make everyone else score and I thought we had a good chance.”
For VCU, Justin Tillman led the way with 20 points, but many of them came when the game was already decided. Marcus Santos-Silva had 10 points and seven rebounds while Jenkins had just seven points on 2-8 shooting from the field. No one else scored in double figures for the Rams. A job well done.
The Rams had a number of stretches in the game where they struggled shooting the basketball. Part of that was Seton Hall’s defense, but it seemed like this was an off night shooting the ball for many players including Jonathan Williams who shot just 2-10 from the field for VCU in the loss.
Coach Willard noted how far the offense has come from last season and one man in particular deserves some credit for that.
“I told the guys the other day that last year we played a lot of three on five,” Willard said. “We struggled to score at times. You add Myles Powell to the equation. When he’s open, he doesn’t miss. We’ve added someone who scores 16 a game.”
Powell’s impact on both ends have been a big reason why the Pirates are ranked 19th in the nation and could climb higher in next week’s rankings.
This season, Powell is averaging almost 15 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from the field and from three point range. Then add on three rebounds, almost three assists per game and a steal per game and fans should start to see how much of an impact he really makes on the floor.
Seton Hall’s new X-factor can help the blue and white do big things this season.
The Pirates lost their ranking earlier this season, got it back and don’t plan on losing it again anytime soon.
“I talked to them about things given and things earned,” Willard said. “They’ve earned this ranking. When you earn something you want to take care of it. I think these guys appreciate that they have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point.”
Up next for Seton Hall is a meeting with in-state rivals St. Peter’s on Tuesday at the Prudential Center before they head to Rutgers for the Garden State Hardwood Classic.