Seton Hall raised over $10,000 for Puerto Rico hurricane relief in a charity exhibition game against La Salle University Thursday night. All net proceeds from the game will be donated to “United for Puerto Rico,” a hurricane relief fund.
As fans donated to the cause with the purchase of their ticket and made up a 1,140-person crowd, they got an extra chance to see the Pirates in preseason action in an 87-74 win at Walsh Gymnasium.
“I got a phenomenal email from someone this afternoon saying how proud he was of both universities for doing this, and how much Puerto Rico needs help,” coach Kevin Willard said after the game. “Anything you can do to help is great.”
While exhibition games between two Div. I schools are usually prohibited in preseason play, the NCAA granted a waiver that the two teams sought to raise money for United for Puerto Rico, according to a team press release.
Willard used the exhibition to test out different lineups, extending his rotation to 12 players. His starters for the game were Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Michael Nzei, Myles Powell and Desi Rodriguez.
Willard said he likes to get his younger players in the game during exhibitions so they can get a feel for the energy and pace of a college-level game.
“I want them to get used to being out there, being out in the lights,” Willard said. “I think, the first time you’re a freshman and you’re playing, it’s always a new experience than anything else. For the most part, I thought they gave us good energy, and they did a lot of good things.”
Two new players that got time on the court were guard Jordan Walker and forward Sandro Mamukelashvili. While Walker struggled on offense, going 2-7 from the field, he contributed to the team’s defensive pressure and recorded four steals.
With the big man, Mamukelashvili looked comfortable on the court, making a smooth three-pointer that drew excitement from the crowd. He also added five rebounds in his 17 minutes.
Call him Sandro MamukelashTHREEli. #shbb
— The Setonian Sports (@SetonianSports) November 2, 2017
“Sandro played really, really good. I’m really comfortable with him being in there,” Willard said. “I think it’s so beneficial for freshmen to play real, live games.”
What stood out from Seton Hall in the first half was the team’s defense, holding La Salle to 27 points and 9-26 shooting from the field. In the second half, though, La Salle broke open with 47 points, much of that production coming against Seton Hall’s second team.
Willard was happy with the team’s defensive intensity in the first half but said as the team established a lead, it influenced the Pirates’ play, letting La Salle get within six points in the second half.
“I think we got a lead and we got, not selfish, but we got a little lackadaisical,” Willard said. “We didn’t keep the hammer down.”
The star for Seton Hall was Rodriguez, who put up 22 points in 22 minutes on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 shooting from three. Additionally, both Carrington and Delgado had five assists each, as the big man found his teammates in the lane, sometimes with a behind-the-head pass.
Ultimately, the team posted 20 assists on 34 field goals made, along with 13 turnovers and 11 steals. Seton Hall also held a 30-13 advantage over La Salle in points off turnovers.
The Pirates have a day off before they hit the court again Saturday for their final exhibition game of the season against LIU Post. When asked if the starting lineup would look similar for that game as it did Thursday, Willard said he is considering starting some of his young players.
“I’m contemplating starting the younger guys just to give them that atmosphere a little bit and try to get them to feel maybe what it’s like to start the game,” Willard said. “Again, I think all those kids are going to get the chance to slide in, slide out during the year. I haven’t really worried about it, I’m just worried about La Salle at this point.”
Now that Seton Hall and La Salle have come together to help “United for Puerto Rico,” the two teams now go their separate ways. Next, Seton Hall will play LIU Post on Nov. 4 at Walsh Gymnasium for its last exhibition game of the season. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.