Kevin Willard would love to erase from his mind the tough loss his Seton Hall Pirates suffered to Rutgers in the Garden State Hardwood Classic this past Saturday. His team had a lot going for it coming in…they were ranked #15 in the country, getting stellar play from their senior starters, and were a top 4 team in the Big East. Willard has to be scratching his head wondering just what went wrong.
Seton Hall’s two losses this season have come against unranked Rhode Island and now Rutgers team. Many Pirates’ fans like myself, are wondering how this could happen after having just scored two big wins on the road against ranked Texas Tech and Louisville. Don’t get me wrong, Rutgers (10-3) is a very good team. They have a star guard in Corey Sanders who will continue to carry them throughout the season.
Photo: The Daily Targum
Although this loss might be one that will haunt the Pirates, especially come tournament selection time, there are some positives to take away from it. Angel Delgado continued to show why he was the nation’s leading rebounder last season, collecting 21 boards in the loss. Myles Powell again showed his sharp shooting ability by dropping 18 points on 4-7 from behind the arc. Freshman Myles Cale brought some excellent energy and athleticism off the bench, highlighted by a highlight reel dunk!
Photo: Seton Hall Athletics
The Hall played very good team defense, in fact they held Rutgers to just 25% shooting from behind the arc and 34.3% from the field for the game. Yet, RU was still able to outscore the Pirates leaving many people wondering what made Seton Hall fall apart.
The answer to that is simple, Seton Hall looked sloppy; and Rutgers took advantage of their miscues. The Pirates had 16 turnovers; and they committed way too many fouls, which sent the Scarlet Knights to the charity stripe early and often. Rutgers shot 34 free throws to Seton Hall’s 11. Spurred on by their rather boisterous home crowd at the RAC, Rutgers played great defense down the stretch. After fighting back from a 42-32 halftime deficit to tie the score at 52 with just over ten minutes left, RU quickly fell down again 63-54 with six minutes remaining. That would be it for Seton Hall, however, as their only points the rest of the way came on two Powell free throws with fifty seconds remaining.
Photo: Boston Herald
No matter how you look at it, Seton Hall just didn’t perform as a veteran, #15 team in the country should; and that is why Rutgers won the game and the title of NJ’s best team this year. Hopefully, Willard and his team can learn from this and build upon it going forward.
The Pirates look to shake off this loss Wednesday night against Wagner (7 PM, The Prudential Center). They’ve beaten the Seahawks eight times in a row.
Feature photo: Asbury Park Press