Despite having a 20-point lead on two separate occasions on Saturday afternoon against DePaul, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Seton Hall.
The Pirates survived a late DePaul surge to hang on for an 82-79 victory and improve to 18-10 (8-8) in the process.
It was a typical slow start for Seton Hall as DePaul led 6-3 at the U-16 timeout. The Pirates came out of the gates ice cold shooting the ball, going 1-6 from the field and 1-4 at the foul line.
Things would quickly turn around as Ismael Sanogo and Myles Powell checked in and provided a spark off the bench. Led by those two, the Pirates got into a rhythm and went on a 15-5 run that put them up 17-11 at the U-12 timeout.
DePaul was able to rally to take a 23-22 lead with 3:59, but from that point on it was all Seton Hall.
The Pirates ripped off a 13-4 run to close out the half with Powell providing eight of the 13 to take a 35-27 lead into the locker room. A large part of the Hall’s ability to jump out to that lead was the production that the team got from the bench, which outscored DePaul’s bench 17-0 in the first half.
The second half got off to an ominous start, as Sanogo re-sprained his ankle in the opening seconds of the half and did not return.
“Not good,” head coach Kevin Willard said of the injury on his postgame interview with Dave Popkin of 970 AM. “Ish is on crutches. We’ll see what happens.”
Even though the Pirates were able to grow their lead to 49-31 after the injury, the game had changed with Sanogo not on the floor.
DePaul was able to get going offensively in the absence of Sanogo and cut the lead to 50-43 behind a 14-1 run led by Eli Cain and Billy Garrett Jr.
Seton Hall responded with a run of its own, expanding its lead to 63-52 at the U-12 timeout and 70-58 with a little over five minutes left.
DePaul refused to go away and came back with a 7-0 run to get back in the game. The Blue Demons kept clawing back in the closing minutes and found themselves down 77-76 with 19 seconds left after Garrett drained a three.
From that point on it was all about free throws and Khadeen Carrington knocked down two to give Seton Hall a 79-76 lead. Garrett threw an errant pass to Powell on the ensuing possession and after a series of fouls and free throws, the Pirates held on for the victory.
The win was crucial for Seton Hall, as it brought them to .500 in conference play, and a win on Tuesday night against Georgetown could ensure that the Pirates finish .500 in Big East play, putting them in a strong position to make the NCAA Tournament.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.