When Seton Hall and Xavier faced off Wednesday night at the Cintas Center another ugly showing from the Seton Hall offense appeared to be in the cards. As the game progressed, the Pirates offense improved, but not enough to help them obtain a victory as Xavier held off The Hall 72-70.
Early on in the action, the Pirates offense struggled mightily against Xavier’s 2-3 zone defense. Their first bucket finally came nearly five minutes into the game off of a jump shot from Angel Delgado.
Throughout the first half, the Musketeers were paced by Trevon Bluiett and RaShid Gaston. Sean O’Mara was also impressive in getting good looks in the paint while being guarded tightly by Delgado and Ismael Sanogo.
The dormant Hall offense would finally be awakened by hot-handed freshman Myles Powell. Powell led the Pirates at halftime with 18 points, hitting many NBA-range 3-pointers.
After holding an edge going into the break, The Myles Powell Show continued out of the locker room as he hit what seemed to be an impossible fadeaway 3-point jumper in the corner to give Seton Hall their largest lead of the game at that point (47-41). O’Mara was once again impressive, responding and providing a quick spark of energy off of the bench and helped cut the Pirates lead to 49-48.
While the freshman Powell put on a very impressive performance for the Pirates, the story of the second half for Xavier was freshman guard Quentin Goodin. Goodin was getting the start after star Edmond Sumner tore his ACL, and was simply phenomenal as he worked through his teammates, especially in distributing the ball to Kaiser Gates. Gates would go on a run to help put the Musketeers in control late.
The Pirates would fight back and tie the game at 61 as Madison Jones cut to the basket and laid the ball in with 4:12 remaining in regulation. As the game winded down, there were three key plays made by Xavier which ultimately decided the game.
Two of these plays were made by J.P. Macura. One was on the defensive end, as he tipped the ball away from Jones who was breaking away in transition. The other big play from Macura was on the offensive end, as he hit a contested jump shot with time running out on the shot clock which gave Xavier a 67-64 lead with 1:02 remaining.
The play of the night was from Trevon Bluiett. With the game tied, he posted up Khadeen Carrington and connected on a fadeaway with five seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Carrington would miss a 3-pointer as time expired and Xavier held on to win.
With the win, Xavier improves to 16-6 (6-3) while Seton Hall falls to 13-8 (3-6) as a result of their loss.
What we learned
Xavier has multiple threats
With the whole Myles Davis situation unraveling recently and Edmond Sumner’s season-ending injury, many began to question if Xavier would be able win many more Big East games.
While Bluiett got the winning basket, Goodin was a big breath of fresh air for Xavier. He stepped up big time filling in for Sumner, scoring eight points and recording a career-high seven assists. Goodin will not fill Sumner’s shoes completely but as a freshman he seems to have the skills and composure to be the team’s go-to guard for the rest of the season.
The season is not over, but,
Seton Hall continues to put themselves on the wrong side of the bubble as Big East play continues. The Pirates still do not have a road win on the season against a team with in the Top 100 of the RPI and that is a major issue to say the least. Often times, the magic number to get into the NCAA tournament is 20 wins, and the Pirates are currently 13-8 with nine games remaining. The Pirates margin for error from here on out is, quite simply, very low.
Myles Powell put on a great performance offensively for the Pirates tonight, but he struggled down the stretch in the second half and no other Pirate was able to step up as the game got close.
Seton Hall obviously has the level of skill to compete with any team in the Big East, but they are truly lacking leadership. Last year, Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon were the team’s leaders and were able to keep the team composed in tight situations.
It seems as though that is what Seton Hall is lacking as they are having a hard time preventing teams from going on large scoring runs and closing games out.