The men’s basketball team found themselves on the losing end of their first test against a ranked team with an 83-67 loss to the Wildcats at home.
“I knew the first six games were going to be tough, that’s a good basketball team,” head coach Kevin Willard said.
Redshirt senior Brian Oliver lead the Pirates in scoring with 20 points and went 6-11 from behind the arc. Oliver entered the game as the second best long range shooter in the Big East and his six three-pointers in tonight’s game extended his season total to 53 threes made.
The Pirates were forced to play another game without the services of the Big East’s leading rebounder Eugene Teague and center Aaron Geramipoor. Senior swingman Fuquan Edwin was also forced out by a knee injury.
“The only one we really don’t know about is Eugene,” Willard said of the timetable for return of the missing players. “Everyone else we have another three days’ rest.”
Villanova was able to take advantage of the Pirates lack of size on the inside and run a lot of plays through the paint and expose the absence of perimeter defenders, leading to a wealth of wide open shots. The Wildcats shot 52% from the field, the third straight game where Jay Wright’s team made more than half their shots.
In the first half, Seton Hall went down early but kept the score close for the remainder of the game. In the final minutes of the second half the Pirates went on a small run that cut the lead to two points but entered halftime down six, 38-32.
Villanova began to truly pull away in the second half, although the score never grew past 15. The Pirates began to close the gap but Villanova would answer right back with a score of their own. Seton Hall was able to shorten the deficit to 10 with less than four minutes remaining in the contest.
Villanova was able to capitalize on a couple second chance opportunities and the two teams traded baskets in the final minutes.
Point guard Sterling Gibbs had 13 points and six rebounds in the loss and Stephane Manga had nine points and went 4-4 from the field.
Villanova was lead in scoring by guard Darrun Hilliard’s 19 points and forward JayVaughn Pinkston’s 17 points. Last week’s Big East rookie of the week, Josh Hart had 11 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes played.
The Pirates next game will be Saturday on the road against Marquette at 2 p.m.
Gerard Gilberto can be reached at email@example.com.