Pirates bested by DePaul as the men drop second straight

Kenneth Cook/Staff Photographer

The Seton Hall Pirates’ men’s basketball team fell to the DePaul Blue Demons Thursday night by a 64-60 final.

Thursday’s loss is the second consecutive loss by the Pirates, the first time Willard’s group has dropped consecutive games and the second straight loss at home, where the fans witnessed a disappointing performance from the No. 24 ranked team, who is sure to fall out of the AP Top 25 after their third conference defeat against a non-ranked opponent.

The Hall sees their record fall to 13-5, 3-3. After gaining national spotlight following wins over then-No.15 St. John’s and then-No.6 Villanova, the Pirates have won just one conference game, against the struggling 0-6 Creighton Bluejays back on Jan. 10.

In a game in which head coach Kevin Willard said the team did not play well offensively, there was one exception—Angel Delgado registered a career-high 19 points on the evening, while also besting his high in boards, also with 19 for his sixth double-double of the season. The freshman went 7-for-11 from the field, and 5-for-9 from the line. Meanwhile his 11 defensive rebounds helped spark a Pirates team that looked flat after over a week off.

RELATED: Angel Delgado: The Big East's Most Important Freshman

The Pirates jumped to a 6-3 lead early on in the first half with the scoring coming from Delgado and fellow-freshman Khadeen Carrington, part of a 12-point performance. DePaul would answer every step of the way though, led by 6-foot-6 Chicago-sophomore Billy Garrett Jr., who finished with 13 points. The Red Demons were also led by junior guard Myke Henry, who scored 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half.

Seton Hall trailed DePaul at the end of the first half 36-33, with only two points from players off the bench in Desi Rodriguez, who would finish scoring five as the only bench points of the night for the blue and white.

Delgado (Kenneth Cook)

After DePaul opened the second half on a 7-0 run, the Pirates answered back with a 12-0 run to take a 45-43 lead. DePaul would claw back to even it up and both teams would trade chances, but with 5:49 to go, Jaren Sina shot the team’s only three to give the Hall an eight-point lead, the largest Pirate-lead of the half. Foul trouble continued though for the Pirates, who had a player foul out for the fifth consecutive game after Carrington fouled out of the game with 3:02 to go in the game and the Hall ahead by just one.

With 43 seconds to go, trailing by one, Darrick Wood made a layup to put the Blue Demons up 59-58, DePaul would keep the lead for the remaining seconds, defeating the Pirates by four.

When asked about the loss Willard credited the defense of DePaul, but also felt the team didn’t play well offensively and struggled to shake off some rust following an unusually-long break between games.

“I don’t think we played well offensively at all,” Willard said. “I expected us to be a little bit rusty, coming off eight days, I didn’t expect us to be that much.”

Willard was also asked about Whitehead, whose absence was certainly felt in this game with upperclassmen Sina and Sterling Gibbs held to a combined-14 points.

“We miss him (Whitehead) greatly,” he said. “It’s one of our best players—we were using him in the offense as much as anybody. We don’t have anybody else right now that can take a load off the way he can.”

He did acknowledge that Whitehead is getting close though.

“He’ll be back,” he said. “Whether it’s next week or the week after, eventually he’ll be back.”

For now though, Willard is appreciating the experience the team has taken in his absence taking on minutes they might have otherwise not seen this season.

No clear indication for a return was made however.

“I’m done with possibilities,” he said. “He looks good, but until he gets cleared by the doctor…Maybe after Xavier is probably the best…that’ll be a full six weeks.”

Gibbs shot 2-for-16 following a 30-point performance versus Butler struggled, being held to just eight points.

“He just had a bad night,” Willard said. “When you have a bad night, sometimes you have to realize you’re having a bad night and you got to be able to do other things. I think this will be a good learning lesson for him—he had a tough shooting night, he’s just got to learn when he’s not making shots…you got to make plays for your teammates.”

Gibbs added four assist and three rebounds to his stat line.

When asked about any kind of motivation his team may take from an almost-certain drop out of the Top 25 Willard said dropping three of its last four may in fact be the real motivation going forward.

Mobley, when asked about any motivation from the loss and the likelihood of a loss in ranking, said the team got knocked back to earth.

“We were on cloud-nine for the last couple of weeks,” Mobley said.

Despite the loss, that sees the Pirates fall sixth in the Big East, Willard or the team isn’t panicking.

“It’s a long, long conference season,” he said. “I’m not looking at Butler and saying ‘Boy, we don’t win this one we’re in trouble,’…Until we get Isaiah back, we’re playing with house money, where our record is.”

The Pirates will head on the road Sunday, Jan. 25 to take on Butler for the second time in three games. The Hall will look for a taste of revenge following a 79-75 defeat in overtime versus the Bulldogs. Tip-off is set for 3:00 p.m. EST.

Neal McHale can be reached at neal.mchale@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @nealmchale.

Author: Neal McHale

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