USA Today Sports
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team wrapped up non-conference play while improving to 10-2 on Saturday, defeating the 1-10 Maine Black Bears 72-43.
The Pirates sent out only their second starting lineup of the season, as it was their first game without freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead. The McDonald’s All-American is out with no set timetable to return after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot. He could be seen wearing a walking boot.
Taking the floor to start the game was Sterling Gibbs, Jaren Sina, Stephane Manga, Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado. Brandon Mobley (flu) would come off the bench but play just three minutes.
The Black Bears got off to a hot start, opening up with a 5-0 run thanks to a layup from Till Gloger and a three-pointer from Aaron Calixte. Maine’s offense would then go into a scoring famine, failing to get on the board in the next 10 minutes of play.
Seton Hall, on the other hand, took care of business. Gibbs kicked things off with a three of his own and then found Manga for an alley-oop to tie the game early. The Hall would go on a 19-0 run and would never look back. They finished the half up 36-16 after forcing 12 Maine turnovers.
In total the Bears would give the ball up 20 times and were never able to threaten in the second half. At one point Seton Hall led by 29 points.
A total of 10 players scored for the Pirates as head coach Kevin Willard emptied his bench. Rashed Anthony was the only one to not record a basket.
Gibbs led the way, scoring 18 points. The junior also had five assists and two steals. Sina had 13 points and two steals of his own while Khadeen Carrington added 12 points off the bench. Delgado tallied 10 points and four blocks while bringing down six rebounds. Manga had eight points and six boards and Rodriguez picked up seven off the glass himself.
Despite not having Whitehead, the Pirates were able to move the ball around, though they could have been better. Seton Hall had 15 turnovers themselves.
“I think we did a good job,” Sina said. “We were just a little sloppy. When you have Isaiah missing it obviously throws things off a little bit, but at the same time the biggest thing is to just get back in practice and play with these new rotations.”
“It was good for me to see the lineups and substitution patterns,” Willard said. “I think the guys did a good job. I feel once we got out rhythm in we were able to get going.”
Whitehead’s absence was not the only change the Pirates dealt with on Saturday. The game was hosted on Seton Hall’s campus in Walsh Gymnasium, opposed to The Prudential Center where the team normally plays. Over 2000 fans were in attendance.
“I think it’s always good to play here (Walsh) because it gives alumni a chance to come back and spend an afternoon on campus, which they don’t get a whole lot,” Willard said. “That, and parking is pretty easy this time of year.”
With non-conference play behind them, the Hall must now gear up for Big East play, which opens with two tough tasks for the blue and white.
Seton Hall will host No. 17 St. John’s on Wednesday, Dec. 31 and No. 7 Villanova on Jan. 3 to open up conference play. The Pirates return to Prudential Center on New Year’s Eve to host the Red Storm. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m.
Gary Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.