Pirates take big step in Big East play with second straight victory

Intensity was the name of the game for Seton Hall on Wednesday night, as the Pirates outran, outhustle and outshot the Georgetown Hoyas en route to a 90-75 victory on Wednesday night.

Seton Hall’s 90 points scored were the second most by the team this season in Big East play, second only to the 93 points scored in a loss to DePaul on Jan. 19.

The Pirates came out of the gate arguably faster than at any other point this season. Led by Myles Powell’s electric start, which included 17 points in the first half, Seton Hall jumped out to an early lead.

“I thought Myles Powell, even though he missed his first three shots, I thought he came out aggressive,” Kevin Willard said. “I thought that set the tone. I thought everyone kind of picked up off his body language, because that’s what he’s been doing in practice again.”

From the start, however, it was Michael Nzei who gave Seton Hall consistency, knocking down seven of the team’s first 12 points.

Nzei was one of four Seton Hall starters to hit double figures on the night. The only one who did not was Quincy McKnight, who finished with nine points. When Seton Hall has all of its talent shooting as efficiently as seen tonight, it is a difficult team to defeat.

[Nzei] has been playing phenomenal,” Willard said. “We’re trying to get him the basketball a little more. When he has smaller guys on him, he has a really good knack of scoring.”

“It shows the league that everyone else on our team can score, too,” Powell said. “It’s going to help spread the floor out throughout the run and we’re going to keep playing our basketball.”

Another key for the Pirates was that Mac McClung, one of Georgetown’s key freshmen, got into early foul trouble and was relegated to the bench four minutes in.

The fast-paced nature of the game meant that the fouls did not solely follow McClung, though. By the end of the first half, each team had 10 fouls, including two each from Sandro Mamukelashvili, McKnight, and Nzei.

The Pirates relinquished their lead slightly by the end of the first half, but still entered the break with a sizeable 13-point advantage. Powell led all scorers through 20 minutes with 15 points, and Jessie Govan knocked in 10 for the Hoyas.

The second half started quickly but, equally as fast, lost its spark. Govan knocked in the first points of the half, but McKnight and Mamukelashvili answered with back-to-back three-pointers to give Seton Hall momentum once again. The two threes made were a part of a 9-4 spurt by Seton Hall to open the second frame and forced Georgetown to burn a timeout early.

“Sandro’s been frustrating me because he’s been playing so well in practice,” Willard said. “He hasn’t been being aggressive in games. I’ve been on him. He came out again and made his first couple shots. He battled Jessie [Govan] really well, I thought he played pick-and-roll defense really well, and I thought he passed the basketball well.”

The Hoyas did not back down, though, as Greg Malinowski, who finished with 16 points, hit two three-pointers of his own to force the Pirates to take a timeout.

Powell came right back out of the break with another hit from beyond the arc. From there on, Seton Hall was able to hold firm with its lead as Govan sat on the bench with three fouls.

“Today we kept our composure and kept running our offense and we stick to what is working,” Powell said. “We didn’t get beat on the boards and we boxed out and limited them to one shot. We were just playing our basketball.”

Ultimately, the game ultimately proved to be an exact prototype for Willard and what he wants to see out of his team for the rest of the season. A large part in that comes from being home and being able to hammer home the details.

“We’ve been home a little bit, we’ve been able to practice a little bit,” Willard said. “We haven’t been on the road and playing. The Kentucky, Maryland, that whole stretch we were home. We didn’t play a road game. Madison Square Garden isn’t a road game for us. Being home this past week was great because we practiced hard.”

Kevin Kopf can be reached at kevin.kopf@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @KMKTNF.

Author: Kevin Kopf

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