With a handful of NBA scouts on hand to see Kris Dunn, it was Isaiah Whitehead who dominated on Thursday during Seton Hall’s 70-52 win over Providence in Newark.
The sophomore point guard shined for the Pirates, tallying 25 points on 8-12 shooting, nine assists and six rebounds. Whitehead drilled five three pointers in the contest, including a buzzer beater at the end of the first half that put the Hall up 30-23. He also had four blocks on the defensive end.
“He makes everybody better, but he makes it very simple for them,” head coach Kevin Willard said of Whitehead. “He’s been playing at an extremely – I guess the last seven out of eight games – high level and that’s why we’ve been playing at a very high level. He’s matured. He’s starting to understand what he means to this team and what the point guard position means.”
With a handful of Association personnel in attendance, Whitehead said he was just trying to get a win.
“Only thing tonight was about was getting the win,” Whitehead said. “Nothing about the future. I’m just interested in the present. As long as we’re winning they’re going to keep coming.”
The Hall opened the second half off with a bang, going on a 15-0 run. Providence crept close at times, but SHU maintained control throughout the final 20 minutes of play.
In addition to Whitehead, Angel Delgado (14 PTS, 10 REB), Khadeen Carrington (12 PTS, 7 REB) and Desi Rodriguez (11 PTS, 8 REB) all made an impact for a Pirates team that shot 46 percent from the floor and outrebounded Providence 49-36.
While Whitehead was busy putting on a show, Kris Dunn – a projected lottery pick – struggled. The Providence floor general – who Willard said was “under the weather” – failed to dish out a single assist, scoring eight points on 4-12 shooting. Instead, it was Ben Bentil, the Big East’s top scorer, whose offensive outburst kept Providence in the game. The forward had a game-high 31 points, but was missed down the stretch after getting ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul call on Rodriguez.
With the victory, Seton Hall now has 20 wins for the first time since 2004 and a 10-5 record in the Big East. With three games left on SHU’s docket – Xavier, Butler and DePaul – the Pirates seem well-beyond the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Whitehead said if the team keeps playing the way it is, it will be impossible for the selection committee to ignore the Pirates.
“Those guys really don’t respect us a lot,” he said. “As long as we keep winning and winning and winning; there’s no way they can keep us out.”
The Pirates and the No. 5 Musketeers square off at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Prudential Center.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.