Pirates beat Butler, stay alive in conference
The men’s basketball team topped conference rival Xavier on Saturday afternoon by a score of 68-60. Fuquan Edwin led the Pirates with 18 points and 6 boards en route to handing the Musketeers (15-6) their first home loss of the season.
A 14-5 run late in the second half, which included a 4-point play from freshman Jaren Sina, sealed the victory.
Saturday’s win comes just three days after Seton Hall fell to Butler, and gives the Pirates some life in the conference. The Musketeers entered the game shooting over 37 percent from beyond the arc, but were held in check on 12 of their 14 attempts from downtown.
Sina’s 12 points were complemented by 10 points and four dimes from Sterling Gibbs, resulting in an efficient backcourt performance for Kevin Willard’s team.
“Jaren [Sina] continues to impress me game after game,” Willard said. “Even when he doesn’t play well, he plays well. That’s what I’m trying to get Patrik [Auda] to realize and Jaren to realize. Your value is not just in making shots. It’s being a calming influence, being a guy who hustles, being a guy who plays smart basketball.”
“Jaren has had as good of a freshmen year as I could have imagined,” Willard added.
With Brian Oliver not making the trip, Brandon Mobley stepped into the shooting role, chipping in 11 points and hitting three 3-pointers. On the interior, Eugene Teague fouled out, but added 9 points and 6 rebounds while serving as the team’s defensive anchor in the paint.
Xavier was led by 21 points from Semaj Christon, and Matt Stainbrook put forth a strong effort of 16 points and 4 rebounds. The Musketeers actually outrebounded Seton Hall 33-28, but allowed the Hall to connect on eight shots from beyond the arc.
After getting stomped by Villanova and Creighton in recent weeks, beating Xavier-especially after falling to the Bulldogs (2-7 in the Big East)-could serve as a turning point in Seton Hall’s up-and-down season.
“The [Big East] teams we added are tremendous,” Willard said in reference to Xavier, Butler and Creighton. “Look at this venue-it’s as good as any venue in college basketball. Noon game on a Saturday is a sellout, and students were lining up at 9 this morning to get in.”
Seton Hall has now recorded four wins in conference play, but will travel to Pennsylvania to take on the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats on Friday, Feb. 7.
Tommy Duffy can be reached at email@example.com.