USA Today Sports
The Seton Hall men’s basketball team’s losing skid extended to five on Monday falling 80-54 to No.6 Villanova.
Freshman Isaiah Whitehead and Sterling Gibbs combined for 27 of the Hall’s 54 points in the defeat. Freshman Angel Delgado chipped in with 10 points of his own while adding seven boards.
With the loss, the Pirates fall to 15-11 on the season, 5-9 in conference play and sit eighth in the Big East standings.
The Villanova Wildcats (24-2, 11-2), fresh off their twelfth-consecutive week ranked inside the top 10 of the AP Top 25 men’s basketball rankings, opened the scoring with a three-point bucket from Darrun Hilliard. The senior guard finished with 18 points on the day to lead all scorers in the game.
After trailing 7-0 in the opening three minutes of play, the Hall connected with a three of their own from Sterling Gibbs, part of a 12-point performance by the junior from Scotch Plains, N.J. Villanova wouldn’t budge though as the Wildcats did not trail at any point in the team’s seventh-straight win and 15th win at home where they have yet to lose this season.
At the half, the Pirates trailed Villanova 36-20, going a collective 8-for-30 from the field.
The Pirates opened the second half on an 8-3 run with the help of an in-paint bucket from Delgado and a pair of back-to-back three’s from Whitehead. The Wildcats though, would grab control of the game, leading the Pirates by as many as 30 points in the second half.
Five players for Villanova finished with double-digit point production on the evening including Hilliard’s 18. Dylan Ennis finished 2ith 12 points, while Daniel Ochefu recorded 11 and JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono both scored 10.
Frustration mounted for the Pirates in the second half as Gibbs was ejected from the game with 4:38 remaining and the Hall trailing 72-45. Gibbs led with his elbow, striking Villanova’s Arcidiacono in the face. Gibbs tweeted an apology following the game. “That’s not who I am,” he said in a tweet. “I’m sorry to my family, friends, fans and team for being an embarrassment. Even more sorry to (Arcidiacono)…I let my emotions get the best of me and that wasn’t acceptable at all. I hope you’re alright and I will face any consequences coming.”
Arcidiacono tweeted back to Gibbs moments later. “Emotions sometimes get the best of us. Heat of the moment thing,” he said in a tweet responding to Gibbs. “We’re all good.”
After the game head coach Kevin Willard made a statement on the matter.
“I am extremely disappointed in Sterling’s actions tonight,” he said. “Our student-athletes are entrusted to uphold the morals and values of good sportsmanship and personal conduct that we preach to them on a daily basis. Tonight’s incident involved a young man of high character showing poor judgment in the heat of competition. It was regrettable, and we will address the issue.”
No immediate course of action has been announced by the NCAA.
The loss cost the Pirates perhaps one of their final opportunities at cracking the AP Top 25 again, as the team’s struggles continue. The team was also hurt by the absence od senior Brandon Mobley, who missed Monday's game with a knee injury.
The team will return to action in the metro area on Saturday as they conclude their three-game road trip at St. John’s. The game will take place inside Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m.