Another slow start from Seton Hall and hot shooting from Trevon Bluiett led the Pirates to drop their fourth straight game to No. 4 Xavier on Wednesday night by a score of 102-90. The loss brings Seton Hall to a 17-9 record on the season and 6-7 in Big East play, good for sixth in the conference.
The Pirates followed a recent trend in which the team’s first-half shooting percentage has continued to plummet. Against Xavier, the Hall converted on just 27 percent of their shots in the opening 20 minutes, struggling from three and to finish inside while Xavier thrived.
The early struggles proved to be the primary factor in the loss, as a deficit that grew as large as 25 points became insurmountable despite the Hall’s stronger second half.
Coming out of halftime, the team had an increased energy, and their statistics showed it. Perhaps Seton Hall’s most prominent improvement was the 14 second-half assists compared to just three in the first, led by five assists off the bench from Jordan Walker.
Ball movement needed to improve, and when it did the Pirates were able to tighten the score, getting as close as within six points of tying Xavier in the final minutes.
The freshman trio of Sandro Mamukelashvili, Myles Cale and Walker were the spark plugs that cut Seton Hall’s deficit to single digits. Mamukelashvili had a breakthrough game, shooting in-rhythm, running lanes and cleaning up misses, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Walker also brought a different energy to the court and put up productive second-half minutes, connecting with his fellow freshmen. He struggled from the field, shooting 1-for-6, but gave Seton Hall depth. Cale also contributed with an assist, steal and block.
Mamukelashvili’s extended run came after Angel Delgado was benched for a majority of the second half, with Delgado putting up 10 points and six rebounds. An out-of-rhythm Delgado and Khadeen Carrington gave the younger players a chance to step up, and in some aspects, it paid off. The younger squad running with sharp-shooters Rodriguez and Powell made for a productive lineup that Seton Hall may look to in the future.
Xavier got to the free throw line an impressive 35 times in the game thanks to 27 team fouls from the Pirates. In a game where Kevin Willard received a technical for arguing foul calls, the Pirates let Xavier get 28 points from the free throw line. The Pirates, on the other hand, made 17 of their 19 free throws.
Xavier received a career night from Bluiett, who put up 37 points that featured an 8-of-11 performance from three. When the Musketeers needed a shot, Bluiett made it.
For the Pirates, Powell led the team with a career-high 30 points on 5-of-12 shooting from three. He has not been afraid to shoot the ball, and that is a positive trend for Seton Hall.
The Pirates will attempt to break their four-game losing streak on Sunday, Feb. 18 when the Pirates host DePaul at the Prudential Center.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.