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St. John’s vs. Seton Hall notebook: 3 Takeaways from Saturday afternoon

For a majority of the game, it was about the other guys.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, Madison Square Garden saw its final Big East showdown of the regular season, as the St. John’s Red Storm and the Seton Hall Pirates squared off at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

The month of February hasn’t been kind for the Pirates, who came in with back-to-back wins after a four-game losing streak. Despite this, it looks like they might be turning things back around. As for the Johnnies, they have flourished this month. It started with back-to-back wins over top-five ranked teams like Duke and Villanova.

However, Seton Hall was able to temper the red-hot St. John’s, hanging on to win 81-74 in overtime. With the win, the Pirates improve to 20-9, with a 9-7 record in conference play. Meanwhile, St. John’s drops to 14-15 overall.

Shamorie Ponds had a slow start to the game, but eventually finished with 25 points. Marvin Clark II added 19 points and 10 rebounds. Bashir Ahmed chipped in 12.

Khadeen Carrington paced the Pirates with 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Myles Powell had 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Angel Delgado added a double-double effort, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Doing it Without Desi

Thanks to the Slip n’ Slide at the Dunkin Donuts Center earlier in the week, Seton Hall’s leading scorer still remains out from a knee injury that he got from that Providence game. Desi Rodriguez has taken a big step up on the offensive side of the floor this season, averaging 18.1 points per game. He’s taken over games and has lifted the Pirates to victory at various points this season. In the first full game without Rodriguez, the Pirates were able to manage.

With Myles Cale starting in place of Rodriguez, he was able to put his work in. He had a bit of a slow start to the game, racking up three fouls midway through the first half. However, he returned in the second half, providing a few timely baskets and ultimately finishing with 10 points. Everyone in the Pirates’ starting five hit double figures against the Red Storm.

”They didn’t have Rodriguez, and they still got it done,” Clark said. “Guys stepped up, they’re a tough team.”

The Pirates’ backcourt duo of Carrington and Myles Powell were a bright spot for the Pirates. Carrington had been a bit inconsistent this season, but when Rodriguez went down against Providence--he had a nice game. This time around, he had another solid performance. Carrington was integral in overtime, getting to the line and knocking down the necessary free throws to clinch the win. With Powell, he was a nice supplementary weapon to Carrington, doing a little of everything as well. Powell was especially great in the second half, where he scored 13 of his 18 points.

The Other Guys

For approximately the first 35 minutes of the game, Ponds was not his usual self. He was underwhelming, forcing a number of shots and was unable to hit from deep. While Ponds picked up his play and kept St. John’s alive by playing a big role in the closing minutes of the game with clutch baskets and free throws, the Johnnies were being carried by a couple of other players leading up to that point.

Clark played one of his better games of the season. He fought for rebounds, was an efficient 8-of-12 on the floor, and generated turnovers which turned into scoring opportunities. He was the only reliable source of shooting from long range. Then there was Ahmed, who even though he faltered at the end, had a few nice drives to the basket and timely rebounds to keep St. John’s in the game. At the end of the game, it became the Shamorie Ponds show, but you would be remiss to not give these guys credit for keeping the Red Storm afloat when Ponds was off for a majority of the game.

The Whitehead Reaction

On Friday morning, some breaking news came out from Yahoo Sports about corruption in NCAA basketball. One of the players listed and specifically named was former standout Isaiah Whitehead, who played for two years with the Pirates. The report alleged Whitehead had received thousands of dollars while at Seton Hall. The Pirates are conducting their own investigation and will look into the matter more. While the school put out a statement, more questions surfaced hoping the team could elaborate on it.

”We’re going to be 100 percent open, and we’re going to be 100 percent honest,” Willard said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and my staff with what we have done.”

Aside from that, the team kept quiet about it overall. Willard offered no other comment. The team said they did not even discuss the report going into Saturday’s game.

”I can’t comment on that right now,” Carrington said. “I’m just focused on Seton Hall Basketball right now.”