Despite a career-high 26 points from Isaiah Whitehead, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team saw its four-game winning streak come to an end against the Butler Bull- dogs, 81-75, on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.
This game could have been a big NCAA Tournament resume-booster for SHU.
The team’s star sophomore came storming out of the gate and connected on all eight of his first-half shots, and even had a flashy assist to Angel Delgado for a fast-break dunk. Whitehead went into halftime having hit seven threes en route to 23 first-half points. He was held to three points in the second half.
“I just felt like I had really good shots and I kept shooting,” he said. “All the guys kept telling me ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting,’ because we were in a slump on the offensive end.”
Delgado finished with four points and four rebounds in the first half, while Desi Rodriguez strung together seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Butler was led by Kelan Martin in the first half, who finished with 12 points after shooting 5-of-8 from the field. He would finish with 23 points.
SHU went into halftime with the score tied, 38-38, after a triple from Whitehead. However, the Pirates quickly fell behind by nine in the second half before staging a gutsy comeback.
“I have a lot of respect for this Seton Hall team,” Butler head coach Chris Holtmann said after the game. “Kevin [Willard] has them playing at such a high level. They play at such a high level and they are hard to guard.”
The second half was not as spectacular as the first for Whitehead, as he was shadowed for much of it by Roosevelt Jones. Despite a rough final 20 minutes scoring the ball, Whitehead added nine assists to finish with 10, giving him a double-double.
“[Whitehead] really kept us in the game, especially in the first half,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said. “I thought his first six three-pointers were all really good step-in threes. In the second half I thought they did a good job… They shadowed him.”
The rest of the SHU squad finished with a combined 15 points in the first half, shooting 6-for-20 from the floor in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Rodriguez fueled the Pirates’ comeback midway through the second half, going 5-for-7 from the floor to finish with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Delgado’s four-game double-double streak came to an end, as well, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds. With four players finishing in double figures, it was not the offense that plagued SHU but rather the defense inside—the Pirates were outscored 40-38 in the paint.
“They played good, we played average,” Willard said. “When you play Butler average, you lose.”
The Pirates will be back in action next Wednesday when they hit the road to take on Georgetown on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. SHU beat the Hoyas at home on Feb. 6.
Kevin Huebler can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Hueblerkevin.