Offense lacks rhythm as No. 19 Seton Hall suffers first Big East loss to Xavier
Seton Hall Athletics
There are no easy match-ups in this year’s Big East, and the 19th-ranked Seton Hall Pirates felt a side of that statement on Wednesday night that they have not experienced yet in the early conference season. After coming up with two major home statement wins over No. 15 St. John’s and No. 6 Villanova, the Pirates entered the Cintas Center and plenty changed for Kevin Willard’s team.
The Hall could not find a shooting rhythm, struggling at just 7-of-26 (27%) from three-point land and 23-of-56 (41%) from the field in a 59-48 defeat at the hands of Xavier.
The game plan going in was to contain Xavier point guard Dee Davis and a Musketeers’ offense that came in shooting 39 percent from three-point range. While the Pirates held Xavier to 3-of-15 from deep, they allowed Davis to shoot 6-of-11 from the field for 14 points and six rebounds. 6-6 freshman star guard Tre’Von Blueitt was not stopped, scoring 13 points to go along with seven boards. Three players, James Farr, Matt Stainbrook, and Myles Davis scored eight points as well for Xavier, which had more balance than the blue and white on Wednesday night.
Seton Hall (12-3) could not get in sync in the backcourt offensively, as only two scorers, Haralds Karlis and Angel Delgado, ended up in foul trouble. Karlis finished with 10 points, scoring with two three-point buckets in the process.
Leading scorer Sterling Gibbs, who was named the CBS Sports National Player of the Week on Monday, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just eight points. While he had seven assists, very few of them went to his fellow guards, as Khadeen Carrington and Jaren Sina each had just five points in SHU’s first conference loss.
The Pirates were down 33-28 at the half, but came ready to play out of the locker room with five unanswered to tie the game. After a dunk by Karlis, Sina nailed a triple to give the game one 11 ties. Delgado, who has six boards on top of his 12 points, scored The Hall’s next four points as the two teams were tied at 37 with just over 16 minutes left to play. After Jalen Reynolds put Xavier ahead 43-41, Carrington followed with a three-pointer to give the blue and white a one-point edge. His trey was the start of an 8-2 run, which also featured a triple from Brandon Mobley and a dunk by Carrington.
The Pirates held a four-point lead with 10:38 left before the Musketeers made their run. But in a game that saw the lead change hands eight times, Chris Mack’s team came answering back.
Back-to-back three’s by Myles Davis and Remy Abell gave the Musketeers a 53-49 advantage with just under eight to play. Gibbs got SHU within one with a three-ball but Xavier followed with a 6-0 run as a jumper by Blueitt gave Xavier a 59-52 edge.
Gibbs cut the lead to 59-55 with another big triple, but the Pirates could not take advantage with five minutes on the clock. Xavier followed with another 6-0 run that spanned the next two minutes, which put the game away.
The Pirates hung in on the glass, getting outrebounded just 32-30. The Musketeers went 14-of-16 from the free throw line, while SHU was unable to create much inside, going just 5-of-8 from the charity stripe and settling from beyond the arc. With the win, Xavier has won eight of its last 10 against ranked opponents inside the Cintas Center.
The Pirates will look to bounce back for the first time in league play and show that they belong in next week’s Top 25 when they visit Creighton on Saturday at 2 p.m.
John Fanta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @John_Fanta.