Coming into this week at 16-12, the Seton Hall Pirates were in a precarious position with regards to the NCAA Tournament. To make matters worse, the Pirates had lost three straight games to fall to 7-9 in Big East play. With Marquette and Villanova looming, Seton Hall faced an uphill battle.
Kevin Willard’s squad answered the call in a big way, defeating Marquette Wednesday by a 73-64 margin, and picking up a 79-75 victory Saturday over Villanova to effectively punch their ticket to a fourth straight NCAA Tournament.
While the final score ultimately was close, Seton Hall never trailed in this game, as they jumped out to a five point lead in the first two minutes, and got the lead up to 11 by halftime behind a balanced scoring effort. Myles Powell, Myles Cale, and Jared Rhoden each had nine points in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was more of the same, as the lead continued to swell, with the high point coming as Seton Hall went up 16 with 18:30 to go in the game. Villanova would chip away and eventually get the lead down to one, but they were never able to overtake the Pirates.
While Powell and Cale both had strong days, finishing with 20 and 19, respectively, while also combining for ten three pointers, it was Sandro Mamukelashvili’s day that will likely be remembered for a long time. The sophomore big man looked like Angel Delgado Saturday, finishing the game with 12 points and 18 rebounds, the most from any Seton Hall player since Delgado grabbed 23 in his final career game.
Five of the seven players to see the floor for Villanova tallied double-digit points, as Collin Gillespie’s 22 led all scorers. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth had 16 and 14, respectively, as Paschall had a team-high eight rebounds.
With Marquette losing to Georgetown Saturday afternoon, Villanova won the Big East regular season title outright, their fifth in six seasons.