For Seton Hall, Tuesday night’s game against Georgetown was a whirlwind.
In what was seen as a much-needed win for Seton Hall’s NCAA Tournament contention, the Pirates battled from a five-point deficit in the final minutes to beat Georgetown, 62-59, on Senior Night.
With neither team scoring more than five three-point shots, the game came down to the wire because of what went on in the paint.
Seton Hall held a 37-28 advantage on the boards and 42-34 advantage scoring in the paint. With the team scoring just three three-pointers, all from Desi Rodriguez, that edge gave the Hall the will to win and come back.
Myles Powell was 0-8 from three while Khadeen Carrington was 3-12 from the field. Where other players lacked, Rodriguez picked up the slack, scoring a team-high 27 points.
Steals and offensive rebounds defined the game down the stretch, as Seton Hall brought its defensive intensity in its comeback for the win.
“I feel like we locked in more, I feel like we locked in more defensively when it mattered,” Madison Jones said. “We need to do it all the time, we need to do it for 40 minutes, but we definitely locked in. We communicated very well on the defensive end, and got the stops when we needed them.”
Prior to the game, Michael Dowdy Jr. and Jones were presented with framed jerseys in a senior ceremony at half court.
In the second half of the game, Angel Delgado set a Big East single-season rebounding record, totaling 378 on the season so far. He also hit the 1,000-rebound mark for his career. He surpassed Patrick Ewing into sixth place with 598 career Big East boards. Additionally, he’s the first Seton Hall player to reach 1,000 rebounds in the Big East era and is one of five players in program history to hit that benchmark.
“If you look at all the great players in this league, that’s amazing, He’s relentless, he’s relentless. He keeps on coming and coming and coming,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
Delgado recorded his 24th double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds, which marks 11 straight and 47 on his career.
Mike Nzei was also key in the team’s defense, grabbing six offensive rebounds, including ones in the game-winning run.
“I thought Mike Nzei was phenomenal. I thought he won us the game, to be honest with you,” Willard said. “His stat line doesn’t show it, but I thought Michael was phenomenal.”
The Pirates went on a 6-0 run to close the game, capped by two free-throws that iced the game from Carrington. The Rock erupted in applause, as it knew how important this game was to the team’s postseason hopes.
“I told them I don’t want to be a bubble team,” Delgado said on what he told his team in one of the final timeouts. “If you guys want to lose this game and go home, just tell me, but that’s not what’s going to happen. I tell them we got to pick it up so people understand what’s our goal. And that’s what we did, we just came and played hard.”
Seton Hall improved its record to 19-10, with a 9-8 record in conference play. With one game remaining, that guarantees Seton Hall not to fall below .500 in the Big East.
Battling back from what once was a 3-6 record in the Big East, Willard expressed the toughness of his team.
“We’re just not a pretty team sometimes,” Willard said. “I think good teams find a way to win, and that’s kind of what these guys are doing.”
With the win, Seton Hall improved to 5-2 in Big East games decided by three points or fewer, and 7-2 overall in such games.
Coming up, the Pirates will close their regular season against Butler on Saturday, March 4 at 2:30 p.m. The players know how important it is to close out the season strong.
“That’s a big opportunity,” Jones said. “A lot of people were talking about if we get this win, we’ll be in for sure. For me, the season is not over, we still have a big game coming up. Beating Butler at Butler, that’s only going to make our seeding and everything else much better. The season is nowhere near over for us.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @eswint22.