The Pirates like to make their mark at Madison Square Garden.
Seton Hall used a 50-point second half and impressive shooting from distance to defeat No. 22 Texas Tech 89-79 in the Under Armour Reunion Thursday evening. The Pirates’ record improves to 6-1 on the season.
Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell powered the Pirates through an end-of-game stretch that was fueled by a fiery Seton Hall crowd. After Khadeen Carrington took a charge with three minutes to go, Myles Powell took over the game in the last two minutes with a three-pointer, second-chance bucket, steal and an and-one all in under a minute.
“Khadeen just kept coming over to me. He tapped me on the head and said ‘you got a big shot for me.’ So I just kept that in my head,” Powell said. “We came to the side and coach drew up a play for me, and I said ‘this is my time.’ I just stayed level headed and knocked the shot down.”
The Pirate faithful in the crowd stayed on their feet until the final buzzer sounded in what was a home game atmosphere for the Hall.
“It’s very close to home,” Carrington said on the team’s success at The Garden. “We have a lot of fans that come out. We got a lot of city guys, so playing in front of our friends and family. The building is just electric and it’s got a feel to it so you just want to play your best game when you’re here.“
Seton Hall’s effort on the offensive end was its best all season with shots working off continuous ball movement. The Pirates assisted on 18 of their 30 field goals on the night, with 10 of them coming in the first half.
Coach Kevin Willard said a key to the team’s success against Texas Tech was a focus on individual play in the week’s preparation, rather than putting an emphasis on studying the Red Raiders’ approach.
“I think for the most part we focused on us this week,” Willard said. “We really didn’t do a lot of Texas Tech. That’s something I’ve done different in the last two years on bye weeks is really to get us to focus on us. We lifted, we did some individuals… We didn’t watch film on Texas Tech until yesterday. That doesn’t happen with me very often.”
Desi Rodriguez continued to be a star for Seton Hall, leading the team in both points (24) and rebounds (seven), and draining 3-6 shots from three. He also made all seven of his free throws.
The Red Raiders tested the Pirates in the paint, recording a 40-32 edge inside. Texas Tech made just six three-pointers compared to Seton Hall’s 11-20 performance from beyond the arc.
The second half was when Seton Hall took control of the game, peppering in three-pointers to extend their lead. With each shot, the crowd went wild. The shots from distance were Seton Hall’s bread and butter of the night.
“I thought both teams played a really good first half,” Willard said. “I thought that was an extremely high-level game. The second half I thought we were able to get some consecutive stops, where we were able to get some easier buckets and shots. I thought we played a little more simple on defense. I just thought it was a really high-level game from two really good teams.”
Seton Hall recorded 89 points against a lockdown Texas Tech defense. Heading into the matchup, the Red Raiders allowed just 55.3 points per game to their opponents, which was the third lowest in the country. Seton Hall’s balanced offense ground the Red Raiders out.
“I have to give Seton Hall a lot more credit than just making shots,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “They got more free throw attempts, made us turn over more than we normally do. So they played great, but I think a part of this game of basketball is when you make shots, victory favors you.”
The second half was also big for Seton Hall’s defense, holding Texas Tech to 12-31 shooting from the field and outscoring them 50-37. The Pirates held as high as a 15-point lead with under a minute to go, but a pair of three-pointers from the Red Raiders cut the deficit.
Angel Delgado, even while sitting out a chunk of the second half with four fouls, established himself in the paint, recording 12 points, five rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He even had his midrange shot going for him.
A key part of Seton Hall’s success on offense for the night was thanks to inside-out passing run through Delgado. He may not be pulling down a double-double every night, but he is impacting new parts of the game.
“We like getting the ball to Angel a lot,” Carrington said. “He’s a great passer, he draws a lot of attention, so he actually got me going today with my first shot and seeing my first one go in. I felt comfortable after that.”
Seton Hall closed out the game making its last four shots. The Red Raiders’ leading scorer was Keenan Evans, who recorded 21 points and six assists. Meanwhile, the Pirates had four players in double figures.
While the bench did not contribute as much as it has in the past, Eron Gordon had two threes to start the game and helped Seton Hall to its 9-4 start.
Seton Hall’s schedule does not let up, as the Pirates face No. 17 Louisville on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. The recent tests are helping Willard learn more about his team.
“I’m learning a lot,” Willard said. “I’m really starting to get confidence in every one of my players. I think the biggest thing is we still have a lot more to go… I think the good thing about this team is they’re going to get a lot better. Defensively, they’re going to get better, and I can only see us getting better offensively as we evolve a little bit.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.