For the first time since 2001, the Seton Hall Pirates entered their annual on-campus game in the Walsh Gymnasium with an AP top-25 ranking Tuesday night. The No. 15 Pirates did not disappoint, handily beating in-state rival St. Peter’s 84-61. Seniors Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, and Angel Delgado each scored in double-digits in what was their final on-campus game to lead the Pirates.
The first half seemed almost effortless for the Pirates, who opened with a 21-6 lead after holding St. Peter’s to 1-11 shooting to begin the game. They never looked back, using stingy defense to enter the half with a 42-23 lead.
As has been the case this season, Rodriguez posed a difficult matchup, using his combination of size and skill to score at will against the Peacocks. After a sloppy start shooting 1-4, Rodriguez regained his composure to finish the half with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. He finished the game with 17 points on an efficient 7-11 shooting.
“I missed a few easy ones at the beginning, but I was able to regroup myself and my shots got better as I took my time,” Rodriguez said.
Carrington was also integral in the win. During his transition to point guard, Carrington has struggled at times to take care of the ball. Against St. Peter’s, however, he finished with five assists without turning the ball over once. His decision-making was as good as it has been all season as the Pirates protected their lead.
“We have a lot of different weapons and we are putting them to use right now,” Carrington said. “I feel like we’re trusting each other a lot more too. That’s a big part of it.”
With a comfortable lead entering the second half, coach Kevin Willard deferred to his backups for more minutes. With more exposure and freedom, freshman Sandro Mamukelashvili and Myles Cale made themselves known. Mamukelashvili finished with seven points and four rebounds and Cale added a thunderous windmill dunk, displaying his raw athleticism.
Delgado also had a solid performance, notching his 57th double-double of his career by scoring 18 and grabbing 11 rebounds. He also moved into third place on Seton Hall’s all-time rebounds list.
“It just shows you what a workhorse he’s been,” Willard said. “You can’t get those numbers if you don’t bring it every game.”
Willard also admitted that he put Delgado back in late to secure the double-double.
“I learned this a long time ago from coach [Rick] Pitino…When you have seniors who are going to go to the pros, you’d better take care of their stats,” Willard said. “I’m always aware of where my guys are stat-wise so I can make sure they get what they need to.”
In their next matchup, the Pirates will face another in-state rival in Rutgers when they travel to the RAC this Saturday, Dec. 16. The game, dubbed the “Garden State Hardwood Classic,” has already sold out ahead of the anticipated matchup. The Pirates will look to take home the trophy for the fourth year in a row.
“It’s a tough place to play, but I’m 3-0 right now [against Rutgers] and I want to go 4-0,” Delgado said. “It’s going to be a tough game. It’s not the same Rutgers that we’ve been beating for three years.”
Andrew Lombardo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @lombardo_andrew.