Fresh off two big wins and with Big 10 opponent Maryland looming on the schedule, it would’ve been easy for Seton Hall to overlook a Sacred Heart team that entered
Instead, the Pirates locked in on both ends of the floor and rode the momentum of a hot-shooting first half and arguably the best performance of Sandro Mamukelashvili’s Seton Hall career to a 90-76 victory to improve to 8-3 on the season.
Mamukelashvili led all scorers with 23 points on 8-11 shooting from the field and 4-5 shooting from three, while Myles Powell added 15 points and Michael Nzei chipped in 10. While those three spearheaded Seton Hall’s offensive attack, the Pirates received contributions from across the board, as Seton Hall’s bench scored 27 points and 10 of 11 players who took the floor scored a point.
Seton Hall hit the ground running, building a 10-2 lead two minutes into the game with Quincy McKnight, who finished with nine points, accounting for five of the 10 points against his old school.
The Pirates stayed hot as the opening minutes of the half progressed and opened an 18-4 lead by the 13-minute mark thanks to an 8-0. With Seton Hall primed to run away and put the game early, Sacred Heart responded to make it 22-12 by the under-12 timeout. Even as the Pirates continued to put points on the board, the Pioneers hung around and only trailed by 12 at the under-eight timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Seton Hall continued its high scoring ways and gave itself some breathing room. After making eight out of nine shots, the Pirates held a 48-34 lead with two minutes remaining in the half and added six more points before time expired to take a 54-37 lead into the locker room. In the half, Seton Hall shot 58 percent from the field and turned 12 Sacred Heart turnovers into 14 points.
Despite by trailing by 17, Sacred Heart was able to cut Seton Hall’s lead to 12 in the opening minutes of the second half as the Pirates went cold from the field, missing their first six shots. Seton Hall quickly rebounded with a Powell dunk in transition and a layup from McKnight to regain a 61-44 lead at the under-16 timeout.
A Sandro Mamukelashvili three out of the timeout gave Seton Hall a 20-point lead and the Pirates did not look back from there, as the Hall spent the remaining 14 minutes putting the final touches on a xx point win.
With the game out of reach, Seton Hall was able to give its younger players some extended run. Shavar Reynolds saw 17 minutes of action and scored 10 points, while Jared Rhoden spent xx minutes on the court and Anthony Nelson played 21 minutes. Nelson saw the bulk of the playing time at point guard in the first half, as he registered six assists and did a solid job of facilitating the offense. Nelson finished with five points and eight assists.
Freshman big man Darnell Brodie also saw some minutes throughout the evening, including a spell at the end of the first half in which he registered a point at the free throw line. Following Seton Hall’s win over Rutgers on Dec. 15, Willard praised Brodie’s practice habits and toughness while hinting at the possibility that Brodie would see an uptick in minutes moving forward.
With Sacred Heart in therearview mirror, Seton Hall can now turn its full attention to preparing for a Maryland team that is currently ranked No. 27 and has bounced in and out of theAP Top 25 poll throughout the season. With a win over Kentucky already secured,Seton Hall’s trip to Annapolis on Saturday serves as another opportunity for thePirates to build upon their NCAA Tournament resume before Big East play begins.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.