The Marquette Golden Eagles and Seton Hall Pirates had previously engaged in two memorable encounters earlier this season. The crowd at Madison Square Garden, the site of the 2017 Big East Tournament, subsequently was hoping for a similar outcome on Thursday afternoon.
While it wasn’t the classic that fans may’ve hoped it would be, the Pirates and Golden Eagles still partook in a relatively entertaining affair. In the first half, Marquette and Seton Hall were “Even Steven” as the two teams walked into the half knotted up at 35 apiece. The Pirates turned on the jets and engineered a pivotal run during the second half, eventually providing enough distance for them to close it out. Although MU put a jolt into them in the final minute, Seton Hall walked away with a 82-76 victory, setting up a rematch of last year’s Big East Tournament final with the vaunted Villanova Wildcats.
The Angel Delgado Show was live in technicolor at The World’s Most Famous Arena. The junior forward got yet another double-double and came one assist shy of a triple-double (12 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists). Delgado was a force all day despite only amounting six points in the first half, as he did it all with a well-balanced performance.
The performance was so good, that even the opposing coach took the time to prop up the All-Big East First Teamer.
“To me, he was the guy who dominated the game,” Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski said of Delgado in the postgame press conference. “He’s got to be an All-American type player. I’ve been doing, playing or coaching for 20 years; that’s an All-American caliber player right there.”
When asked if he knew that he was one assist shy of a triple-double, the junior answered simply.
“Yeah,” Delgado said, who would then go on to be asked if he told his coach to put him back in. “Yes, but I told Coach, put me back in. He was like, ‘Nah, you might get hurt.’”
Willard would continue on, going over how the situation in time played a role in his decision. “I knew he had nine for a while,” he said. “But once it got down to them — if they had missed a couple of shots and we could have been up 14 or 15, I would have kept him in. But they were just fouling anyways. But if they weren’t fouling, I would have put him back in.”
Delgado was one of five Pirates to amass double figures on Thursday. Madison Jones and Desi Rodriguez each scored 11 and the pairing of Khadeen Carrington and Myles Powell racked up 17 each. Powell, a freshman, looked stupendous in his first ever Big East Tournament game and contributed in other areas too, grabbing four rebounds and picking up an assist as well.
But Willard was hardly surprised at Powell’s performance on Thursday.
“He’s played this way all year long. He might not get as much attention because of the big fella [Delgado] and Khadeen and Desi, the way they’re playing, but Myles has had a phenomenal freshman year,” the Pirates coach said.
Powell had been left off the Big East All-Freshman team that was revealed on Sunday, but make no mistake: As his coach echoed, Myles is one of the best freshmen in the league and could be poised for another great performance in Friday night’s semifinals if he’s firing on all cylinders again.
Marquette meanwhile looks to collect themselves while hoping to hear their names called on Selection Sunday. Both Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard, whom were present at the postgame presser, were asked if they believed that the Golden Eagles were tourney-bound.
“We’re hoping so,” Rowsey said. “Nothing is guaranteed at this point. We can just hope for the best. In my opinion, I believe we’ve done enough. We’ve proved ourselves multiple times. And I mean nothing is guaranteed at this point in the year, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Rowsey, Howard and Katin Reinhardt all put up double figures with Rowsey leading the flock with 20 points. Howard and Reinhardt, meanwhile, chipped in 16 and 12 respectively.
With the loss to Seton Hall, the Golden Eagles now fall to 2-4 in Big East Tournament games since the conference’s reformatting. The Pirates, on the other hand, are now riding a four-game winning streak that will be put to the test on Friday night at The Garden.