Whitehead, Gibbs come to near-blows in loss
Kenneth Cook/Staff Photographer
With their NCAA Tournament dreams hanging by a thread, the Seton Hall Pirates (15-9, 5-7) came out with another lackluster effort on Tuesday night, falling to Georgetown (16-8, 8-5) 86-67.
Once ranked the 19th-best team in the country, the Pirates now sit at eighth place in the Big East Conference after losing back-to-back games at home to the Hoyas and Marquette.
The Hall struggled right from the start, opening the game with three turnovers. Ball security would be a problem the entire night, as Seton Hall would finish with 15 giveaways. Isaiah Whitehead would contribute six of them as Georgetown would score 27 points off of turnovers alone.
Down 26-7 at one point in the first half, the Pirates were able to close the gap to five as Whitehead hit a three to finish the first 20 minutes of action. Down 43-41 to open the second half, Whitehead started things off by finding Mobley for three and then knocking down a triple of his own to knot the game up at 44. With the team streaking, the crowd energetic and Georgetown’s Joshua Smith at four fouls with 15:49 to go, things were looking good for the Pirates.
It would be the last time.
The Hoyas coasted the rest of the way, largely because of Isaac Copeland and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Copeland, a forward making a rare start because of what Georgetown head coach John Thompson III called a favorable matchup, had 20 points and eight rebounds. Smith-Rivera, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, finished with 23 points and five steals.
The Pirates seemed to lack interest at times, though head coach Kevin Willard was not questioning anyone’s effort.
“I think I have a group of guys who are all trying to do really good things and make plays,” Willard said. “They are trying but are getting a little dejected right now. They are really struggling for the first time and they are not reacting the right way yet.”
The lone standout for Seton Hall on Tuesday was freshman Angel Delgado. With his eighth double-double of the season by the time the first half was over, the big man finished with 12 points and 15 boards.
“I thought Angel played really well tonight, did a lot of good things,” Willard said.
Whitehead & Gibbs nearly fought Tuesday night.
Despite his performance, Delgado was not enough to stop the Hoyas in the paint, as Georgetown outscored the Pirates 40-22 down low.
Free-throw shooting also killed the Pirates, as the team went a combined 19-31 from the line.
Brandon Mobley quietly had 11 points for the Hall while grabbing five off the glass and Sterling Gibbs put up 17, though his shot selection was questionable at times. On top of the turnovers, Whitehead shot just 2-7 as he ended the game with nine points.
Heading into this game there was controversy surrounding the team following comments made by Mobley and tweets made by Whitehead after the Marquette loss on Saturday. Willard declined comment on the matter of team chemistry, simply saying that the issues had been addressed.
Meanwhile, multiple sources tell The Setonian that Whitehead and Gibbs came to near-blows in a team huddle during a second half timeout around the 11:19 mark of Tuesday's game. No punches were thrown but Gibbs had to be separated by associate head coach Shaheen Holloway as things escalated. Apparently, the two guards have been at the center of the team's ongoing locker room divide.
Seton Hall players were not made available to the media following the game, though Whitehead tweeted, “Imma Give Everybody What They Want That’s It Watch,” shortly after the game. He also changed both his profile picture and cover pictures to photos of pitch blackness on his Twitter account. Following the Marquette loss, Whitehead tweeted, "No More Of That Brother Stuff Strictly Business Partners."
With visions of the Big Dance fading away for all kinds of reason, Seton Hall must now gear up for a tough road stretch that will see them play at Providence, Villanova and then St. John's if they have any chance of playing in March Madness. With the way this team is acting both on and off the court, that will be easier said than done.
The game against the Friars is set to tip-off at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Feb. 14.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.