Myles Powell is known as the go-to scorer for Seton Hall, but it was the other Myles who stepped up on offense to help guide Seton Hall to an important 78-74 victory over Maryland on Saturday.
Powell led all scorers with 27, but a career-high 23 points from sophomore Myles Cale propelled Seton Hall to a resume-building win over a gritty Maryland team that trailed big early and fought its way back into the game. Known as a lockdown defender, Cale flipped the script against the Terrapins, shooting 6-10 from the field, 8-8 from the free throw line and scoring 18 of his 23 in the second half when Seton Hall needed him the most.
Early on, it did not seem like Seton Hall would require any second-half heroics to come away victorious on the evening. The Pirates opened the game on an 11-2 run and led by as much as 11 in the early stages of the first half before Maryland found itself on offense. After struggling to shoot from the perimeter in the opening minutes, Maryland went back to its roots and fed Bruno Fernando down low possession after possession. The future lottery pick had his way in the post, scoring 13 first-half points and coming down with six rebounds. His efforts helped Maryland close the first half on a 29-14 run and the Terrapins took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
At halftime, Kevin Willard and his staff made the necessary adjustments to limit Fernando to six second-half points on 2-5 shooting. Whenever Fernando touched the ball, the Pirates double teamed and made Fernando visibly uncomfortable. Even when he was not double teamed, Fernando had to deal with 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill, who was making his first career start. In 24 minutes of action, Gill did an excellent job of banging with Fernando down low while avoiding his fifth foul after falling into early foul trouble. Gill finished with six points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Seton Hall also made a handful of adjustments on offense at halftime, as the Pirates came out hot and regained the lead in the opening minutes of the second half. From there, the two teams engaged in a back and forth battle which featured no bigger lead than four, as Maryland led 61-57 with five and a half minutes remaining.
Right before the under-four timeout, momentum began to swing in Seton Hall’s favor. Powell drove into the lane and finished an acrobatic shot through a foul to cut Maryland’s lead to 61-60. After a missed shot on the other end, Cale was fouled going up for a rebound and hit two free throws at the other end to gives the Pirates back the lead. However, Maryland hit a free throw to tie it at 62 before the media timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Powell was fouled and went to the free throw line and hit two free throws to give Seton Hall back the lead – a common theme down the stretch. Maryland tied it up yet again with a bucket at the other end, but Cale came back down and hit a 20-foot step back jumper to give Seton Hall the lead for good.
Following the tough make, Cale came up with a steal on Maryland’s next possession and finished at the rim to make it 68-64. Quincy McKnight came up with a big defensive stop following the make, blocking an Anthony Cowan floater from behind.
With under a minute remaining, Seton Hall held a 71-68 lead and free throws would be needed to put the game away. Mamukelashvili, Cale and Powell all stepped up to the charity stripe to put Maryland away for good. Eric Ayala hit a corner three to make it a 76-74 game with 2.7 seconds remaining, but Cale calmly drained two free throws with 1.8 left to seal the deal.
Seton Hall now sits at 9-3 at the conclusion of non-conference play with a neutral court victory over No. 9 Kentucky and a hard-fought road win over Maryland to its name. Willard formed a difficult non-conference slate with preparing his team for Big East play in mind and it wound up paying off, as Seton Hall is now battle tested with two Quadrant 1 victories on its NCAA Tournament resume.
With non-conference play in the books, Seton Hall can now begin to prepare for the rigors of conference play. The Pirates will open up Big East play on Dec. 29 against a currently unbeaten St. John’s team that will likely be ranked in the upcoming AP Top 25 poll.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.