On a day where Seton Hall honored its 1992-93 Big East Championship team, the Pirates paid homage to their predecessors, displaying some old school Big East grit in overcoming a desolate start to defeat Georgetown by a final score of 74-61.
It was a performance for the 1992-93 team, a squad predicated on toughness and solid defense, to be proud of, as Seton Hall ramped up its intensity after a slow start that saw Georgetown jump out to a quick 12-3 start, a lead that eventually ballooned to 21-11 by the 10-minute mark.
“We started off slow and that’s always been a thing this season,” shooting guard Myles Powell said. “We had a TV timeout and coach told us we can’t do this. This is a great team and it starts on the defensive end, let’s get a couple of stops, get out on the break and that’s what we did. It opened up for everyone and everyone started getting going.”
After a 7-0 Georgetown run, momentum swung in Seton Hall’s favor as the Pirates ripped off a 6-0 run of their own, prompting a timeout from Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing with the Hoyas leading 21-17.
Seton Hall continued to roll coming out of the Georgetown timeout and by the 6:44 mark, the Pirates had regained a 27-26 lead thanks to a transition three from Desi Rodriguez, who finished tied for a team-high 19 points.
After Powell drained a three to push Seton Hall’s lead to 30-26, the two teams went back and forth before the Pirates ripped off a 14-0 run to give them a 44-31 lead heading into halftime. Like Rodriguez, Powell finished the afternoon with 19 points while also adding six steals, five rebounds and two assists.
“I saw my openings and I kept going,” Powell said. “Coach has been telling me to bring the energy and get back on defense. He said I’ve been lacking a little and I haven’t been rebounding as much, so today I came in, wanted to rebound and be great on the defensive end.”
Saturday afternoon’s game served as a rebound for Powell after a tough road trip in which he was plagued by the flu against Butler and Marquette.
“I was just getting over my sickness and I had a good week of practice,” Powell said. “My four seniors came to me and told me to shoot the ball, they didn’t like my performance last game against Marquette, and they said I wasn’t bringing the energy, so that’s what I did today and it worked. They said I’m the fuel to the fire and they feed off my energy.”
“When Myles plays with this enthusiasm, it’s infectious,” coach Kevin Willard said. “He brought great energy and ran the floor much better than he had on the road. That’s the way he’s been playing all year and when he plays this way, we’re a much better basketball team.”
The second half proved to be uneventful, as both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net. Seton Hall held a 54-39 lead at the under-16 timeout but allowed Georgetown to cut into it thanks to a cold stretch that saw the Pirates go 1-of-12 from the field over a five-minute span.
Fortunately for the Pirates, Georgetown endured a cold stretch of its own, going one for eight from the field as the Pirates struggled and squandered numerous opportunities to capitalize. The Hoyas did not help themselves in the turnover department either, turning the ball over 16 times, leading to 21 Seton Hall points off them.
“We have to stop turning the ball over,” Ewing said. “I think we have to do a much better job taking care of the ball. We got off to a great start, we broke the lineup and we started turning the ball over. We let them right back in the game.”
Georgetown had one last chance to cut Seton Hall’s lead to single digits, trailing 64-54 with around three minutes left. Fittingly, freshman Jahvon Blair threw a pass out of bounds and it was all Seton Hall from there, as the Pirates cruised to a 74-61 victory.
As Rodriguez and Powell shined on the afternoon, Angel Delgado turned in his 64th career double-double, scoring 11 points and coming down with 13 boards while drawing high praise from Ewing in the process.
“He’s a good player, he’s a workhorse,” Ewing said of Delgado. “He makes the other guy work for everything. He’s smart, he knows how to use his body and I take my hat off to him.”
“He was one of the players I looked at on YouTube, I want to be like him,” Delgado said upon hearing Ewing’s praise. “To hear that from him, it’s unbelievable. I was really excited playing against him too, so that got me going a little more.”
Saturday’s win was an important one for Seton Hall on multiple fronts, as the Pirates have a tough stretch in their schedule coming up with a trip to No. 25 Creighton on Jan. 17 and No. 10 Xavier coming to town on Jan. 20 in a nationally-televised affair.
It was also imperative that the Pirates came away with a victory for Willard, as the eighth-year headman wanted to get the job done with the 1992-93 team and legendary coach P.J. Carlesimo in the building.
“It’s awesome,” Willard said. “Any time PJ.. comes back, he brings such great passion and great energy. He loves this school so much and to have him around for both practices yesterday was great.”
“Seeing coach P.J. in practice yesterday, it was great,” Delgado said. “It was great to see these guys. They’re legends and that’s what we’re trying to be.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.